Women lured by cash for eggs can pay high cost to health
Egg donors also testify about their experiences, usually happily, on fertility websites or social networking sites. For instance, a graduate student named “missjamiesue” posted a 10-part video on YouTube describing how she donated 15 of her eggs. “It was not that big a deal. Well, it was — but it isn’t something you should be scared of if you are considering doing it,” said the young woman, who said she received $5,000 in compensation.
Young women are the targets for this procedure and yet there’s not enough clear or unbiased information about its pros and cons, said Kierra Johnson, executive director of Choice USA, a reproductive advocacy group. As a result, she said, Choice USA is working with Generations Ahead, a social justice group, and the Health Equity Institute at San Francisco State University, to survey egg donors and launch a website on the procedure.
Kristan Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life, said her organization is “keeping our eye on” the issue as well.
Campus ads on egg donation are reaching young women “right when they need that money most, so we’ve got to be out there saying, ‘Look, you need to take a second look at what you’re about to do,’” said Ms. Hawkins.
“The women interviewed in “Eggsploitation” underscore that warning.
Alexandra, for instance, said she read up on egg donation before agreeing to it, but “didn’t see the risks.”
She eventually produced 28 eggs and felt fine for a week. But then came a searing pain, followed by doctor visits and prescriptions for painkillers.
When she saw a doctor two weeks later, “his face went white” when he saw her distended abdomen. She went in for surgery but lost her ovary.
When she reached her 30s, Alexandra said, cancer was diagnosed in one of her breasts and then in the other breast. She had no known risk factors for cancer, and — except for donating eggs — her health history was unremarkable, she said.
Another egg donor named Sindy landed in the hospital, too: She responded powerfully to the fertility drugs, resulting in a harvest of between 50 and 60 eggs. Pain soon drove her into a hospital, where doctors discovered she had a puncture in an artery, either from the harvesting process or from hyperstimulation. Sindy said she has since endured more surgeries.
Calla, a third donor, said she signed up for egg donation to help someone have a family, but said she regrets it now. She said she suspects the drugs she took interacted with a hidden, benign tumor in her pituitary gland, leading to a massive stroke. In addition to suffering from several disabilities, “I can’t have my own children now,” she said.
“Eggsploitation” also suggests that two women who donated eggs died directly or indirectly as a result of the procedure.
These donors’ stories “need to be told,” Ms. Lahl said.
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