Our anonymous donor today is a Taiwanese American from northern California. She has an advanced pharmacy degree and currently works in an ambulatory care setting. In her free time, she […]

March 16, 2023 // Evan Billups // No Comments //

Our anonymous donor today is a Taiwanese American from northern California. She has an advanced pharmacy degree and currently works in an ambulatory care setting. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors and planning trips with friends and family. This donor has donated with AsiaWest twice so far.

Can you start by telling me about yourself, your background, where you’re calling from?
I’m 25 and I’m from northern California, born and raised. I didn’t move from northern California until a few years ago when I moved to Phoenix. I’m a pharmacist. I work remotely – remote clinical work.

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?
I was actually just scrolling through Facebook – it was through a Facebook ad. And I think I’ve seen it before, but it was always like Caucasian people so I was like, “Ok whatever”. But then I saw it was specifically for Asians and I was like, “Oh that’s interesting!” I didn’t know there were companies that catered towards just my demographic. And I was doing some research just for fun because it kind of intrigued me and I read that there’s a big need for Asians, and that’s what kind of started the whole journey of a deep dive into what it’s about and what it takes to be an egg donor.

Yeah! And so going into the donation did you talk to your family or friends about it? Or not?
I did not. I just know my family specifically is very conservative. I do have an aunt that’s younger than me and she was conceived through IVF, but growing up they never talked about it – it was all like kept under wraps. So I already knew going into it that maybe eventually I would tell them about it, like in a few years, but for now it’s not something I want to bring up yet.

That’s fair. So did you have any specific worries or concerns about becoming an egg donor or about the process before you went into it?
I think the biggest worry was like the long-term effects it can have on someone, especially when you do a lot of high doses of those injections. And I did look into it, but I was like, ok I can try it once or twice when I’m still young and my risk is still lower. There’s still not too many studies out there yet, so if there are I would want to be part of it. But I think that’s just something we’ll have to find out in the future. That was my biggest worry. Even the injections didn’t scare me too much. It was just like oh shoot, there’s not too much info and that was like the only thing holding me back in the beginning.

Yeah! And did you do your own research or were you kind of asking Delcie or Amber, whoever you worked with, about it? Were they able to alleviate some of your concerns?
Yeah they did. But I’m like the kind of person where I’m like I have to see it for myself! So I did do my own research. And I actually joined a Facebook group specifically for donors and that helped a lot too because no one has other intentions – they’re just like in the same boat as me. And they shared a lot and that was the biggest thing that helped me because I had like a community.

Yeah we find that it’s helpful for donors to talk to each other, see stuff directly from each other online – it just kind of helps demystify it. So how was the donation process for you? How was the clinic that you went to?
So the first one I went to went so smooth. Their contact person was very fast with communication, very clear. And also the person on my end, she was also really good so like everything went really smoothly.

But the second donation – I just finished my second donation like a month ago – the new girl, Mara, she was awesome. She was so fast at communication and made me feel really comfortable. But [the clinic’s] third party person – I don’t even think she’s from the clinic! She would take days to respond and like there were things that could’ve been easy that were hard just because of the lack of response. Because my work schedule is seven on/seven off, my week on I only have a few hours when I’m free so there were points where some medications weren’t even sent to me.

Oh no!
Yeah, I mean I should’ve done my due diligence to look, but I knew that plans would change so I was like ok I’ll just go with the flow. But then like the day of I was like shoot, this medication is not even in my box. So they had to like delay some stuff, and that could’ve ruined the whole donation in itself! So like that was a huge thing. There was just a whole bunch that caused it to be like really stressful. But it’s not AsiaWest’s fault – it’s that clinic’s fault.

So with your latest donation or with your first donation, did you experience any physical discomfort or symptoms?
Before or after?

I guess either!
So when I was doing the injections themselves, I had a little bit of bloating but that was it. Very little. Even after the donation the next day I could walk around and I was fine. The second donation I had a lot more eggs because I think they upped my dose; that one I did feel more bloating going up to it and then after the donation there was just a lot more cramps. And I think it took about a week to feel back to 100%.

Can you remind me what kind of contact you had? Was it anonymous?

Ok. And are you thinking of donating again in the future or do you think you’re good for a while?
I think I’m good for a while, until maybe my schedule goes back to normal. It would I think depend on the clinic I’m working with!

That makes sense! So now that you have experienced egg donation a couple times, are there any myths about it that have been dispelled for you? Or things that people might believe about it that you found not to be true? There’s a lot of misinformation about egg donation out there so I’m just wondering if there was anything that surprised you about it.
I think one thing going into it – so there’s pros and cons to joining that Facebook group. I guess a con was that a lot of people had bad experiences with the clinic they worked with – not with the agency like you guys, but the clinic – and the general consensus was that the doctors at the clinic are not on your side and they’re on the intended parents’ side and they just want to like pump a whole bunch of meds into you and get as many eggs as possible without regard for your health. But both clinics I went to the doctor specifically, the nurses, I could tell they cared about me and my health. They were like, “Oh we don’t want to want to push you too hard” or like “We want to make sure you’re comfortable” and I felt like that was the myth busted: they did care about my health even though I’m not paying them, you know?

Ok good! And what would you say was your big motivation going into it? You said you saw a Facebook ad and then what kind of like prompted you to go through after seeing it?
I think the biggest thing was me reading that there is such a lack of Asian donors. Because of my aunt and my experience of everyone trying to sweep it under the rug and not talk about it, I’m like “Oh shoot if I can be that person to help”… Everyone always talks about lack of Asian representation in media, but I don’t think we really talk about lack of Asian representation in healthcare. So I was like maybe that’s something I can help out with and be one of the first generations to actually like start the conversation.

And in terms of compensation, how has that changed your life in any way? Have you put it towards something specific or just kind of saving it up?
For this one I’m saving it up for the future – either a house down payment or when the stocks crash!

That’s smart – very astute! And how did you feel about with working with AsiaWest?
I liked it! So every staff member I’ve talked to or worked with at AsiaWest was wonderful. I have no complaints. Very smooth. I would like bother Mara at like the weirdest times of the day and she’d like respond right way. Or like when my meds didn’t show up in my box, she was so helpful and calmed me down a lot. So they were awesome!

Ok good! And what would you say was the best part of your experience being an egg donor?
That’s a really good question. It’s different when you’re an anonymous donor because you don’t get that satisfaction of like oh the intended parents are so happy! But I would say the first donation I didn’t have as many eggs as I wanted. In the second one I had like a good amount. So I think like the best experience, even though I didn’t talk to the intended parents directly, my nurse I know she did because they all see the intended parents and the work with them and she told me specifically, “Oh your intended parents will be very happy with your number”. I know in the beginning their doctor didn’t even want them to choose me because of my low egg count, but they had pushed and they had basically like asked them to review my documents over and over until he was finally like, “Ok fine!”

So it made me feel really good that they believed in me and they wanted me and they pushed for me when nothing was really promised.

Yeah! That is a good feeling. And then lastly, what advice would you have for someone who’s interested in becoming an egg donor?
Definitely do research on everything to expect. I think the biggest thing that surprised me was how much time I would have to take off work for appointments. I didn’t realize I would have to arrange my schedule like that, which I should’ve just done research on. And like the injections, you have to do them at the same time every day. So I would recommend them to really write down everything that they should expect – like how much time they have to take off or like how they have to arrange their schedule, things like that, because that kind of came as a surprise to me.

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

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