Rose from New Mexico

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Lahl: How did you first learn about egg donation, and what made you consider it?

Rose*: I saw the ads in the University of New Mexico daily paper. I am a low-income student and was working and struggling to make ends meet. I was definitely financially motivated. I didn’t want a child then, but was OK with helping someone else have a child. I filled out the application, and in about a week, I was contacted and interviewed.

Lahl: So you were accepted and moved forward with the donation process?

Rose: Yes, I signed an informed consent document, which I don’t remember the specifics of. I do remember signing that they weren’t liable if anything happened to me, and I said it was OK if the children produced from my eggs wanted to contact me in the future. I sold my eggs twice in 2007 when I was 25 years old (spring and summer) and one more time in the fall of 2008 when I was 26. I was paid $2,000 each time, so I made a total of $6,000. I was not given a 1099 form, but was paid by a check.

Lahl: What was your experience working with the agency, physician, and staff?

Rose: I had a lot of counseling and genetic screening done to be sure I was healthy and able to make this decision. I worked with the same people for all three of my donations. Overall, it was a good experience, but being an egg donor was quite an experience. I was super aware of how huge my ovaries were. My post-op recovery was good and uneventful.

Lahl: How was it that you came to contact me and want to tell me your story?

Rose: I heard about the film Eggsploitation from my health and policy class at UNM as I am a student at the UNM Health Science Center. I was interested in the fact that egg donors are not seen as patients, per se, and was interested to learn about the global perspective in reproductive technologies. My background and interests made me concerned with the lack of peer-reviewed studies of egg donors/egg donation, issues surrounding proper informed consent, the coercive ads, and the strong sense women have in their own sense of identity as “helpers” for others, which often means our decisions may not take into account our own needs for health and well-being.

Lahl: A common thread I see in the numerous interviews I have done with many egg donors is their sense of being health conscious, living a healthy lifestyle with being concerned about the foods they eat and getting proper exercise. With your interests in diet and nutrition, what did you think about when you were considering the hormones you’d be injecting into your body?

Rose: I’ve been a vegetarian/vegan for a long time, and it’s important to me to eat local and organic, but I had a lot of stress in my life about paying the rent and I really needed the money. I told myself I was doing a good thing, to help someone else, so I just didn’t think about the drugs I was going to put into my body. I took these drugs for the process each time: Lupron, Centrotide, FSH, and Human Chorionic Gonadotropin

Lahl: So you had no known short- or long-term risks as a result of selling your eggs three times, and yet you remain skeptical about egg donation/selling?

Rose: I believe, fundamentally, the money is a coercive aspect of this practice. These technologies are only available for high-income people, and there are no long-term studies done on the health risks. Also, I am concerned about the genetic selection preference in designing children to be what we want them to be.

Lahl: Were your friends and family supportive of your decision to sell your eggs?

Rose: My family gave me a lot of flak and harassed me because I said I didn’t want any children of my own. But, they told me, you really are a mom!

Lahl: If another woman asked you about selling her eggs, what would you tell her?

Rose: I would show them your film, Eggsploitation, and tell them about the risks, and I would encourage them not to do it. I’d try to help them in any way I could so that they wouldn’t feel the financial need.

Lahl: Why did you agree to doing this interview and going public with your story?

Rose: I wanted to add my voice to the number of other stories.

*name changed to protect identity