Our next installment in our Donor Story series follows not just one, but three of AsiaWest egg donors. These donors talk about their experiences donating, their motivations, and their specific […]

October 21, 2020 // Evan Billups // No Comments //

Our next installment in our Donor Story series follows not just one, but three of AsiaWest egg donors. These donors talk about their experiences donating, their motivations, and their specific identities as Asian egg donors.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, and what experiences brought you to egg donation: 

Donor 1: I was an international student from China, I came to the U.S. 6 years ago and decided to stay in this beautiful country. I first came across AsiaWest by an advertisement on Facebook. Honestly, I was a little skeptical about it because the large amount of compensation seemed too good to be true. But I reached out anyway because I wanted to have a chance to help complete a couples’ dream to have a family – it’s such a beautiful thing. I personally feel deeply about families that want to have children and are not able to have one on their own. My own brother and sister-in-law have had trouble having children of their own. So, when the opportunity presented itself to me, I felt like I just had to help or I’d regret it for the rest of my life. To say it’s not because of the large amount of money would be a lie, but it’s also so much more than that to me. I also understand that the amount is big because the supply-to-demand ratio is so off. It’s still a sensitive topic for Asian women and not many people are willing to donate eggs. For me, it’s just a “why not?” question. I am young and healthy. I have eggs and I’m not using them – why not give them to someone in need?

Donor 2: I was a recent college graduate. I saw the ad for it pop up many times on different sites and thought it’d be interesting to see if I qualified as a donor. I didn’t think too much of it and saw it as an opportunity to help other Asian families.

Donor 3: There are many labels I can put on myself, such as Chinese, immigrant, veteran, college student, and aspiring dentist. But at the end of the day I am just someone who desires to help others and serve my community. I came across an ad on social media about egg donation. At first, it was just an idea that I was never exposed to. Then it became a “why not do it?” question. I asked myself, “Why not help a family who wants and is ready to have a family, but couldn’t achieve it on their own?”, while I can also benefit from helping them.

Can you describe any fears you may have had about becoming an egg donor, and the egg donation process?

Donor 1: I had fears that this is a “scam”, or perhaps they’ll kidnap me and take my organs for human trafficking… But I wasn’t too worried overall, the agency and clinic were very pleasant and professional. I didn’t have a doubt once I had met them in person. 

Donor 2: The only worries I had about the whole process was how it was going to affect my body, my fertility, and whether any part of it was going to be intrusive. I was mainly concerned because I would want my body to be working the same so I would still have the same opportunities, such as kids, etc, as before the process.

Donor 3: I guess the only fear I had was the risk of not being able to bear children in the future. I personally do not want any kids in my current mindset. But I am not sure if one day I would change my decision and want to have family, only to figure out I couldn’t do that because of the procedure I had done in the past.

Who have you told about your donation? What was their reaction? Were your friends, family members, or loved ones supportive?

Donor 1: I told my husband, close friends and close coworker about my donation. My American friends are very supportive, and they respect my decision. Most of my Chinese friends aren’t as supportive when it comes to my donation. They think that it’s “bad for my health”, or they just don’t like the idea overall. But most of them, even if they say they don’t understand and that they’ll never do it themselves, still respect my decision in the end and are supportive of my choice. Because of their misunderstanding and closed-mindedness about egg donation, I was even more sure that I was going to do it, because no one else will. To my knowledge some of the intended families even came from out of the country looking for more advanced medical care. They cross half the earth to come look for help. They’re paying me $18,000 just in compensation not to mention they’re also paying the agency, clinic, lawyers, medical bill, insurance etc… These families out there desperately need help, so much that they’re willing to pay such a large sum of money just to have a family. I can’t even imagine how much pain they must be going through in the years of trying, and how much pressure they must have. It’s a small discomfort for me and to think that me, a small being who walks the earth like everyone else, can help a family complete their dream is just a wonderful thing and a great honor.

Donor 2: I’ve told my sibling, my close friends and acquaintances. They were all very supportive and intrigued by the process. Most of the people I told about my donation were roughly around the same age as me or generally a bit older. I didn’t think to tell my parents or other family members that are around their age because I wasn’t sure if they had a more conventional view on topics like this. I also haven’t had to tell them so it’s not something that I actively try to hide from them.

Donor 3: I told my friends and family about my consideration of donating eggs. They were shocked at the beginning and they asked me why I wanted to do it. Some of them even offered me money, thinking that I might be desperate for money. But after I explained myself to them, all of them are quite supportive. I think it’s because they know who I am, and they trust me that I took time to think it through.

How did you feel after the egg retrieval procedure?

Donor 1: The retrieval procedure was fast, and I didn’t feel a thing. I was very sleepy that day, probably because the procedure was scheduled at 6:30 AM.  Also trying to wake up from the anesthesia, my support person picked me up from the clinic and I went back to the AirBnB we were staying and took a very long nap. I woke up in the afternoon feeling a little bloating, mostly just like a period. The first day after the retrieval was not bad, just some bloating and slight cramping. The second day it started getting worse. I felt nauseous and threw up in the morning. I had extreme bloating so that standing and walking was very uncomfortable. I barely had appetite to eat and mostly rested in bed. It stayed that way for 3 days, getting a little better every day. I could see my tummy bloat up and going down day by day. By the 5th day after retrieval I started to feel like just a period amount of discomfort; then I completely recovered afterward. 

Donor 2: I mostly felt bloated and slightly constipated around the abdomen and ovary area.

Donor 3: I felt bloating for around two days after the procedure. No other symptoms besides that.

How has egg donation changed your life?

Donor 1: It’s definitely a huge chapter of my life. For me, I don’t want a child of my own. It’s a lot of responsibility that I personally am not willing to take. It might sound weird to a lot of people, but in my opinion, our life’s biggest purpose is to pass down our genes. Knowing that I have technically completed that goal and they’re in good hands, it’s a regret I won’t be having when I get old.

Donor 3: It did and didn’t in a sense. Sometimes I think that there’s a family somewhere in this world that has a baby me. I just hope the baby me brings them the bundle of joy they expected.

Now that you have experienced egg donation yourself, are there any myths about the process or experience that have been dispelled for you? 

Donor 1: I have heard there’s chance of massive bleeding after the procedure, but I actually didn’t have any bleeding at all.

Donor 2: The myths that have been dispelled are that the process is painful, it causes infertility, and I’ll lose my eggs. The process is at most uncomfortable, but never painful, unless you’re extremely sensitive to needles. The most difficult times were towards the end of the prep process when you become more sensitive to needles and the bloating that comes with the eggs growing. The doctors do an amazing job of checking the donor’s fertility and egg production so there are no concerns about that.

Do you have any advice that you would give someone who is thinking of becoming a donor?

Donor 1: I’ll say do your research. Read into it and make sure you are comfortable with everything. And be mindful of the consequence that’s coming with the donation. Think hard and deeply, what’s the reason you want to do this?  If it’s just because you are struggling with financial problems and need the money, I’ll say think twice, three times before going into it.

Donor 2: It’s a wonderful experience knowing that you can help parents to start a family. In addition, the compensation will allow you to have some financial foundation to pursue something you’ve either wanted to do or imagined yourself doing. The donation helped me clear my student loan debt.

Donor 3: One thing I asked myself is that if I take the money out of the equation, would I still want to do it. And the answer for me is YES. It is very important to me that I do it for the right reason. Also, I think it is important to ask yourself are you ok with knowing someone, who are not your kids, out there has 50% of your genetics. To some people it could be a very weird feeling, because they actually feel like they have a kid out there somewhere. But family means way more than genetics to me. At the same time, it is ok to demand equal treatment if you do decide to donate.

These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.

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