Today’s Donor Story looks at GK, a software engineer based out of California. GK is from India, but moved to San José about a year ago with her husband and […]

April 9, 2021 // Evan Billups // No Comments //

Today’s Donor Story looks at GK, a software engineer based out of California. GK is from India, but moved to San José about a year ago with her husband and two year old daughter. She enjoys Bollywood music, the TV show Friends, and swimming.

Can you tell me a little bit about how and why you became an egg donor?  Where did you hear about it and what prompted you to go through with it?
Basically I saw an advertisement online about AsiaWest and then I ended up filling the form and talking to Amber and Delcie. The idea behind going about it was being a parent myself, I know the joy of parenthood and motherhood. I never knew about this program because in India we don’t have it yet. But when I came to know about this I was really looking forward to it, I really wanted to help a family.

And then when I had a word with Delcie, she told me how there’s a dearth of Indian donors and that is what I think was the main motivation behind it. When I came to know that people are waiting for years and years, especially for Indian donors, that was something very shocking, very new to me. I really wanted to do anything I could to help those families out when I heard some stories about how people are struggling to get their own children. Being a parent myself I totally understand how amazing it is to raise a child, to have your own child.

Going into the donation did you talk to your family or friends about it? What was their reaction?
Initially I told my husband, my brother, sister, and my brother-in-law. I was a little reluctant to tell my parents because in India it’s still a taboo. Nobody knows about it. People are not aware of that.

What specific worries/concerns did you have about becoming an egg donor or about the egg donation process?
Covid started just after the process started in January. That was another concern for me because, you know, hospital visits and meeting people, because there were many visits in person – blood draw, ultrasound for this and that… I was really reluctant to go to clinics and hospitals initially because I have a two year old. I was not sure if I should go or not. Things also got delayed a bit, but I’m so happy because it was all safe and it all happened smoothly in the end.

I’m glad that you felt safe during the pandemic and the process. The pandemic makes everything harder! So for you what was the donation process like?  What was the clinic like?  
I had heard a lot about this fertility clinic, that it’s like one of the best and everything. I had a pretty smooth experience with them. My coordinator, Emily, explained all the things nicely. All the people’s work was done. Everything was well planned. Like I had some issues initially with the calendar that she gave and she was all supportive. She changed it instantly, she jumped on Zoom calls and she explained all the medications and injections very well. Even when I went to the clinic I felt safe because they had certain checks like surveys and temperature checks every day. Social distancing was maintained, everything was cleaned and sanitized before they let me in. So yeah, the whole process was smooth.

How might donors expect to feel physically throughout the donation process?  Did you experience any pain or discomfort?
Once the hormonal injections started, I think after two to three days, I started feeling heaviness in my abdomen, which was obviously normal, I was told. I was more aware of my ovaries and I had to go pee more frequently and all those things. There was a little bit of discomfort and it gradually increased as the retrieval day came. Because it was expected I did not worry much about it. I did whatever they told me, like take a high protein diet and take lots of electrolytes and fluids, so that really helped me a lot.

After two days only I felt pretty normal and within a week I was like completely back to normal.

What choice of contact did you have?

How do you feel about your choice of contact, and would you do the same thing, or do it differently?
So I was open to an open contact also because I was ok getting to know them more, who I was donating to. I think moving ahead if I were to do another donation maybe I would choose again all the three modes – I ticked all three. 

Looking back, what sort of expectations did you have, if any, going in and was the experience as expected or different? Was there anything that surprised you about it?
No, not really because Delcie, Amber, and everyone had told me so many times about what’s going to happen. They told me all the details, all the nitty gritty, and even Emily – these people explained it to me so well. And it all happened how it was planned so there was no shock or surprise along the way.

The only little thing I was worried about – while I was traveling to Portland I experienced a little spotting, a little bleeding which I didn’t know was normal so I was a little shocked in the moment. But then I reached out to Emily and she told me that it was completely normal. Apart from that I was told “Ok you will experience these symptoms, you could have that, when you go in for this checkup this will happen”. I was aware before all those things happened.

What was the best thing about being an egg donor for you?
The best thing is getting to know that 22 eggs were successfully retrieved and out of them 10 are in good shape and ready. Getting to know that you’ve given them a gift of a lifetime, just that feeling is really overwhelming for me. I’m like really happy for them that whatever process they take forward – surrogate or whatever – I’m really happy that after putting in so much energy, time, and money and whatnot and emotionally being involved in all of this. If the end product is good I’ll be really happy for their family.

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?
The one that I was concerned about that you would have problems conceiving again if you want to after the egg donation, so I clarified that with a couple of doctors that I met in the clinic and they all told me that it’s just a myth, that it’s not true. I may or may not plan a second child, so I really wanted to know that. So that is one myth that I read online and then wanted to clarify with the doctor.

That’s a really common one. Are you thinking about donating again in the future?
I might. I’m not really sure because I have a wedding back in India so I’m going to travel sometime soon. Because of the Zika delay and everything, it’s a six month delay, I think I might not be able to donate in the coming six to seven months. But yeah, maybe sometime next year I may donate again.

Has the compensation changed your life in any way? Did you have it put towards a certain thing?
Not now, not really. For now it’s just there, I’ve not thought about what to do with it exactly. Maybe in some time I will decide what to do with it.

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?
I don’t think money was really a factor because we are quite stable financially. So that was not the factor that motivated me… Once [Delcie] told me how there is such a long wait for Indian donors especially, I think that is the one thing that motivated me really to go forward with it. Especially because I’m here and in India we had no clue about this. Money was never the factor.

How did you feel about working with AsiaWest?
I felt really nice. The whole experience was smooth, it was streamlined. Delcie, Amber they were all very quick to respond whenever I had a question. Even a personal experience – I had a little trouble weaning off my daughter because that was an important step before I could donate, before the injections could start. So Delcie helped me a lot. She gave me a couple of tips and you know advice on what to do, what not to do! So I had a little personal connection also with them. They went above and beyond and helped me in whatever I needed. I was successful in weaning off my daughter so yeah, there were many things in the entire process where they made sure that if I needed anything, I could just talk to them about it. I could be upfront. I was pretty comfortable with both of them. So yeah, it was all nice.

Do you have any tips that a prospective donor should look for in an egg donor agency?
I think the first thing is the coordinator, whoever it is, they should be able to talk to that coordinator. So I think that is like really important because if they have hindrances, if they have questions in mind that they can’t talk about, they won’t be comfortable through the entire process.

Their motives should be clear why they’re doing this and only then will they be able to go through the entire process… unless you’re highly motivated, like there’s a driving factor, I think people can step back, especially when the hormonal injections start. Three injections in a day is a big deal! So I think the support from the agency and being comfortable with the entire thing, having all your questions cleared out, you know that there are people supporting you in this entire process is really helpful and one should really look for that in an agency.

Do you have any advice for someone who’s interested in becoming an egg donor?
I think just listen to whatever the doctors tell you to do because they know it all, they’ve had like thousands of such experiences. They will guide you the best. I know that I listened to all the small and big things that they told me to do and that really helped me. Things like drinking a lot of fluids, electrolytes, not jumping around – little, little things and big, big things! Everything that they tell you, just keep them in your head and just follow them. That is what really helped me get back on my feet in just one or two days.

There’s a lot of content online, you know? So we read about stuff and we talk to other people and we get swayed – ok this might be right or that might be wrong, you know? So I think the one who’s handling the entire process, we should really listen to that and just follow along because if anything goes wrong, they will be the people who you would go to. It’s best if you listen to what they have to say because they are really, really experienced.

Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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