Happy Friday! For this week’s blog we have the first Donor Story of 2021. Donor 014748 is of Korean ancestry. She went to the University of Washington for undergrad and […]

January 15, 2021 // Evan Billups // No Comments //

Happy Friday! For this week’s blog we have the first Donor Story of 2021. Donor 014748 is of Korean ancestry. She went to the University of Washington for undergrad and currently lives in the D.C. area. Here she discusses her first time donating eggs and her experience as a Korean egg donor.

How and why you became an egg donor?  Where did you hear about it and what prompted you to go through with it?
I had a friend who donated her eggs in college, so that made me curious about the whole process. Obviously for compensation reasons, that really caught my attention. But the thing is, I started watching YouTube videos and reading articles online, and it does make you feel good knowing you’re helping to create a family.

Going into the donation did you talk to your family or friends about it? What was their reaction?
I told some of my close friends and my mom. Obviously her being Korean, she was against it, but it didn’t really matter. But my friends were supportive. They were a little worried about injections, but other than that they were supportive of my decision.

You mentioned you had some worries and concerns before going in. What specific worries/concerns did you have about becoming an egg donor or about the egg donation process?
When I was searching for egg donor experiences on YouTube, there were some videos that were just against the whole egg donation process; they were posting how it could kill you, how it could lead to cancer, whatever yada yada. That was kind of scary honestly. And having to inject yourself  for almost two weeks – that was terrifying more than anything.

What made you go through with it anyway? Was it asking questions or hearing other people’s stories?
Honestly – I’m not just saying this – but talking to Delcie and Amber was phenomenal. I was working with this other agency prior to this, but I didn’t donate with them. That coordinator was terrible – she wasn’t responsive. You had to send her multiple emails for an answer. But with Amber, you know I had my doubts, but she was always there to respond or send me an email and follow up with me. And that’s what really pushed me to go with it. And I’m so glad that I did because yeah, the poking part wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t too bad, and I personally didn’t really enjoy working with the clinic here, but thanks to Amber she made everything better. If the clinic wasn’t responsive, all I had to do was reach out to Amber and she would just fix it right away.

I’m curious what the donation process was like? What was the clinic like that you went to?  
I did not like my main nurse, honestly. Thank god she was gone for the most part – she was on vacation – so I worked with somebody else, but when she was in charge of me it was impossible to get a response back from her. Like she would only contact you when she needed something from you. But if I had questions about like when can I start lifting again, can I work out this day, she just doesn’t respond. But that was fixed just by talking to Amber and she would reach out to them on behalf of me. Amber’s amazing – he made everything so much better and easier.

I’m glad that someone was able to get you the answers you needed throughout that. So how might donors expect to feel physically throughout the donation process? Did you experience any pain or discomfort? If so what kind?
It was painless for me. I just felt bloated more than anything. For me, the toughest part was just not being able to work out for almost two weeks. They said you could just do cardio, but for me I lift weights and I couldn’t do that. But yeah, bloating – it wasn’t too bad for me. It was an easy process for me. I was expecting something much worse because when you read articles and watch videos, I mean it depends on the person, but they really prep you for the worst. But for me, even after procedure it was painless, everything was simple.

That’s good. So after the procedure, did you go right back to your regular activities?  What amount of time would you recommend a donor take off after retrieval?
I was expecting at least a week to recover, but for me from the day I got back from the clinic after my egg retrieval I didn’t work out, I waited four days to go back to the gym, but really nothing. It was painless. I still felt bloated obviously. Those first two or three days after retrieval, you do feel heavier, but besides that it wasn’t necessary for me to take a day or two off at all. I just went to work and did everything else.

How do you feel about your choice of contact, and would you do the same thing, or do it differently?
Honestly I’m pretty open to anything. I don’t have any of the intended parents’ information or anything which is fine, but if the intended parents – I don’t know if I would meet them in person – but if they had questions I wouldn’t mind just talking to them through Amber or other coordinators. But I’m comfortable doing it this way.

In general what sort of expectations did you have, if any, going in and was the experience as expected or different?
Different for sure. I thought it was going to be a lot more time consuming and just challenging in general. But for me it was just easy breezy and I was done. Two weeks flew by and I was done. And I’m so glad that I did it. And more than anything I’m grateful for my coordinator because she’s amazing. She’s phenomenal. There’s no other way to describe her.

So we kind of talked about this, but what was the best thing about being an egg donor for you?
I know I mentioned earlier the compensation part, that’s an easy one right? I’m working and 8-5 every day, but with that one experience, it does help you financially. Other than that, I didn’t really think about it until I started injecting myself, but knowing that what you’re doing could change someone’s life forever – I think that’s very meaningful. I’m not trying to sound wooshy or anything but really, I do hope the intended parents are able to have a successful pregnancy through this.

Yeah definitely. Now that you have experienced egg donation, are there any myths about it that have been dispelled for you?  Things that people might believe about it that aren’t true?
I think what you read online is exaggerated. Yes, injections do – well, I forget the name, menopur? That one does sting a little, but it’s not too bad. They make it sound like that one hurts a lot. The thing is, you get used to it when you do it for almost two weeks. I would say it’s not as painful as they make it sound.

Were you doing your own injections or having someone help you?
No, I did it on my own. I don’t trust anyone else to poke me!

Are you thinking about donating again?
I am. I’m going to be working with Amber for my next donation. Hopefully they don’t change because I really enjoy working with her. I did register with other agencies and they were nothing like Amber and Delcie. They are so supportive. Yeah, so I think we’re looking at November or December for my next donation. It was going to be a one time thing but just how easy it was, I’m just like screw it – I’ll do it again!

How did you find AsiaWest specifically and how did you feel about working with AsiaWest? Do you have any tips that a prospective donor should look for in an egg donor agency?
Obviously there are many other egg donation agencies, but for me, you know I read online that people struggle to find Jewish and Asian donors in general so when I was looking for agencies, I looked up Asian egg donors to see if there are any differences between regular agencies. That’s how I found AsiaWest. And I like the fact that their website – for a donor you want to know like how much am I going to make – everything is listed on the website. And that’s what I really liked about AsiaWest. It’s open. You don’t have to feel like, oh do I have to negotiate how much my eggs are going to cost? No, it was a very open process from the beginning and that’s shown through the website and that’s what I like about AsiaWest.

Would you say that the money was a big motivator in the beginning and that changed over time? Or was that never the only motivation?
Especially when you’re in college, money is all you think about right? But it really changed for me because obviously that wasn’t the only reason why I decided to become an egg donor. As you’re in the process, as you’re going through it, your mentality kind of changes. I remember the first thing I asked my nurse after retrieval was “How many eggs were you able to retrieve?” Because I wanted to make sure that the intended parents got as many as possible. I mean if I didn’t care about that I’d just be like oh I’m done, but just knowing that you’re helping someone means a lot. Like I’m not attached to those eggs whatsoever, but they mean a lot to the family, to the intended parents.

That’s a good way of looking at it. So to start wrapping up, what advice do you have for someone who’s interested in becoming an egg donor?
I would say that even though for me it was a very easy process, you do have to be committed. You have to be prepared to make it to those appointments for ultrasounds and bloodwork and you have to make sure you are communicating and responding to your nurses and coordinator because it’s not just you. What you do and don’t do affects everyone else involved in the process. So I would say don’t think just of it as ok, I’m donating my eggs so they’re on my time. No, that’s your responsibility so stick to the schedule. 

Yeah, from talking to Amber I know that it works best when donors are flexible with their schedules because she’s always madly putting all this together.
Yeah she gets stuff done! Even the questions that I don’t ask she comes up with like oh do you know about this? Do you want to know about this? And I’m like oh yeah, actually that’s what I want to know. She really…. you know I’m not her client. Her clients are the intended parents. She makes you feel like you’re important too, like you’re an important part of the process. I really thank her for that because you know, it’s uncomfortable, especially being a Korean American donating eggs, that subject is like not too comfortable, right? As my mom described it, it’s like selling your body. And she’s being extreme, you know? So you’re walking in just feeling uncomfortable and awkward, but Amber’s been just open and always makes sure you’re ok. I think she is the one who changed this entire process for me because even though I jumped in like oh I want to do this, I needed the support more than I thought I would. And she was always there to support you.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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