By Robin von Halle

Time magazine recently reported on health concerns such as infertility and cancer surrounding egg donations, tying them to the rise in inquiries by prospective donors in the current economy.

It’s interesting that of all the sources quoted, there was not one comment by the agencies that recruit and work with the donors. In fact, our agency and many others we know are far more than just “recruiters.” We take our advocacy role for donors and surrogates very seriously.

The article was one-sided, leaving the impression that all egg donor agencies are guilty of lax, if not unethical practices. It negates the very important role that many of us play.

At Alternative Reproductive Resources (ARR), each donor is educated on the risks involved to egg donation, such as hyper stimulation, the most common side effect after retrieval. We make sure each donor is aware of what can possibly happen with their bodies as a result of the donation process. We require them to undergo psychological screenings to make sure they are emotionally fit to donate. We also maintain contact after egg retrieval and at least one more time after she menstruates. (And sometimes we even share our cell numbers.)

We understand that many of these young women looking into egg donation are motivated by the compensation, but that should never override good sense. Here are a few questions they should ask their agency upfront in the interests of ensuring informed consent.

  • What are the health risks, specifically and statistically?
  • How many donation cycles do you allow?
  • What’s your level of experience, based on total donor cycles completed?
  • Do you provide qualified legal representation for donors?
  • Do you provide insurance in the event of medical complications?
  • What does your donor screening process entail?
  • Can I talk to your current and past egg donors?

As the fertility industry grows, it’s up to us to make sure we’re meeting the highest standards of practices and behaviors, and follow guidelines established by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. ARR developed a code of ethics to help protect our donors, surrogates and intended parents through this process.   However, donors must remember that it’s their bodies and no one is as deeply vested in their health as they are.