egg donor cycle
Thursday, February 7th, 2013
The post below comes to us from Diana, a two-time previous donor with BHED.
Now, let’s get on to the business of having blood drawn during your cycle. Sure, I recently discovered it’s a piece of cake to have a needle in my skin for a second during an injection, but what about a needle being nestled into my vein for more than a minute as my precious life force is drained from my body into a cold heartless vial? This would be tricky. For those of you who hate having blood drawn, you are not alone. I was the girl who broke into a cold sweat, literally soaking my shirt the minute I sat in the strange school-desk chair, oddly appropriate as I would often be having an internal fit reminiscent of a 2nd grader, and was handed that ball to squeeze. I hadn’t had blood taken in so long (and hardly remember the last go around after having fainted). They call my name. I walk over to what is referred to as the (ahem, cough, swallow) “Blood Station” with my iPod earphones in.
My deer in the headlights look is greeted by the kindest pair of eyes I’ve ever seen. These eyes belong to Raul, the Phlebotomist. He seems to notice my unease, perhaps my clenched fists and general lack of breathing or blinking, and says “I take it you’re not a fan of having your blood drawn?” To which I say “Not a fan at all, maybe even a heckler” as a strange trail of nervous giggles leaks out of my clenched jaw. I try to make jokes when I’m nervous, also to downplay how incredibly frightened I am, they’re also usually really horrible jokes as demonstrated. But for some reason, Raul’s warm presence had me feel it was okay to just come clean, “I’m actually terrified of having my blood drawn. In fact, it’s the only thing I’m afraid of. Some people fear car accidents, life failure, earthquakes. I fear sitting in that chair. I usually pass out or vomit either before, during or after having my blood drawn. In fact, I’ve avoided doing it for several years because I’m always so embarrassed by my fainting or throwing up.” Wow, thanks for the biopic, Barbara Walters. Raul is not at all put off by this, in fact, he appears to find this honesty refreshingly charming (this is what I tell myself after feeling like I just shared some sort of Judy Blume confessional diary entry). He’s not looking at me like the high-maintenance mess that’s about to make his job a huge pain. He puts his hand on my shoulder and says, “I’m really good, you won’t feel a thing. Let’s have you lie down.” I lay down and already feel 100 times better than I usually did in the chair. I say, “Raul, I’m going to turn my music up really loud while you do this.” He smiles and says, “No problem, do what you have to do.” I turn on my music and the next thing I know Raul is telling me it’s over. I couldn’t believe it. I sat up and almost cried. ”You’re the best Raul! The best! You’re the fastest blood-taker in the west! You’re a blood-taking ninja!” Raul was laughing, I was laughing. It was a regular feel good Who’s the Boss episode where Raul lovingly pats me on the head and calls me “Saman-ta”.
So what made this go-around so different than previous blood draws? Quite simply, being open and honest with the Phlebotomist about my fear. For so long I had tried to”hide” it, as I was painfully embarrassed that a woman my age couldn’t handle what, in the grand scheme of things, is such a simple thing to do. Come to think of it, after voicing my fear, I immediately had a sense of relief. That seems to be true for most things in life, I suppose. We often make ourselves so uncomfortable trying to cover up what we’re afraid of, or ignoring it all together, that it grows into a larger, scarier beast (perhaps simply to get our attention). If I were to distill my fear, it really came down to the embarrassment of fainting or throwing up. By sharing my fear with Raul, he was empowered to help me and make some adjustments so that didn’t happen. So, if you have any fear or anxiety about having your blood drawn, be sure to share that information with the nurse or Phlebotomist, they’re actually extremely accommodating. After, you might notice that the only drawn out thing about a blood draw is you driving yourself crazy thinking about it. Similar to the rules that apply to those who have a difficult mother-in-law – acknowledge the fear, but you don’t have to invite it out to lunch and entertain it.
-Diana, former BHED donor
Monday, May 17th, 2010
Part 3 in Brenda Fahn-Hardt’s informal discussion for Intended Parents.
Meeting the Donor? There is No Right Choice.
At some point during the egg donor process most parents consider whether or not they should meet their egg donor. There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Each case is different and depends on the intentions and expectations of the intended parents. If their expectations seem reasonable and realistic, then meeting the egg donor can turn into a very positive experience. Most of the time intended parents want to be able to meet their donor so that they have the option of telling their child at a later date. Statistically, only about 20% of intended parents choose to meet their donor. If you intend to tell your child that they were conceived with an egg donor and you want to tell your child something about the donor, then meeting would likely be a positive experience. Many times parents to not have an interest in, or feel comfortable, meeting their donor, which of course should always be respected. Each situation is different.
- Brenda Fahn-Hardt M.S., MFT
Beverly Hills Egg Donation Staff Psychotherapist
Thursday, May 13th, 2010
Part two in our series of discussions on psychological issues for Intended Parents.
Choosing a Donor
Once intended parents have made the decision to use an egg donor, anxiety can arise surrounding the donor choice. Every intended parent usually approaches the issue with ‘preconceived’ criteria for choosing their ‘perfect’ candidate – beyond the standard medical screening that is done, scholastics, personality, and appearance are usually at the top of their list. I empathize with individuals and couples as to how difficult it is to make such a big decision. It is important to remember that there is no rush in choosing a donor. It takes time to find the right match. Whatever the intended parents are looking for, I encourage them to get as much information as possible from their egg donation agency regarding their donor, while also trying not to ‘over-control’ the situation. Once one feels they have made the best decision, according to the information they have, then the challenge can be trying letting go. There are no guarantees in life, all of us who are parents usually begrudgingly learn that a lot more of life is out of our control than we would like. Parenting is about being able to handle all the imperfections that come with a child, whether you have your child through an egg donor or not. When couples do have difficulty containing their anxiety during this process therapy can help.
As the ‘screening’ psychotherapist, my process is analytical and involves assessing the donor for her maturity and ability to follow through with the process, as well as the presence of any major psycho-pathology (i.e. personality or mood disorders). An interview and psychological test are used to check for either of the two preceding elements.
- Brenda Fahn-Hardt M.S., MFT
Beverly Hills Egg Donation Staff Psychotherapist
Thursday, February 25th, 2010
You’ve been searching for weeks for your ideal egg donor candidate, taking into consideration physical characteristics, fertility history, family health and educational achievements. You’ve ranked your favorites, narrowed them down, slept on it and now that you’ve found your perfect match and are ready to book her, you can breathe a big sigh of relief and know that your search is finally behind you.
Not quite. Despite the best of intentions, something will go wrong in 25%-30% of all egg donor cycles and most, if not all of these issues cannot be predicted in advance. Beverly Hills Egg Donation has an extensive in-house screening process and a team of donor reps who work diligently to ensure that our selection of donors is the strongest that it can be, but there is always the potential for surprises once a cycle gets underway. As is the nature of working with a young woman in her early to mid- twenties, your donor will be having medical testing for a number of things that, if not for this donation, she likely would never have been tested for at her age. There are also occasionally unforeseen issues that come up in the psychological testing, genetic counseling, or during the legal process. In fact, this is why we utilize these professionals in the first place – to protect you and ensure that you have the best chance possible at a successful outcome once the medication phase of the cycle begins. While our personal screening process is an initial review, we employ others to help uncover any health/genetic problems that may otherwise have gone undetected and confirm that your donor is psychologically prepared to donate.
This is why, no matter how perfect your donor may seem, we always recommend that you select a backup option before going forward with your cycle. We have many repeat donors available (which lessens the possibility that something unexpected will come up to deter or derail your cycle), but even then if something goes wrong and you have a backup choice, our cycle coordinator will be able to help you move seamlessly onto that donor without using any momentum. There is also no additional agency fee to switch donors; your full fee will be applied to the subsequent cycle.
Ideally, your cycle will be completed smoothly and without a hitch. However, one of the best things that you can do to make your experience with egg donation as successful as possible is to remain flexible and be prepared for the unexpected – which includes having a backup donor in mind before you book your perfect match.
Monday, February 15th, 2010
Check out our freshly updated “Who We Are” page to meet the newest staff members to join the BHED team. Liz Bader-Natal, Bay Area Coordinator, provides support to Donors and Intended Parents throughout the duration of the cycle. Sally Blackford manages our online server and has lent a tremendous hand in keeping day-to-day administrative work running smoothly. And Diana Ashley, a previous donor herself, works in Donor Outreach to keep each of our donor’s profiles accurate and up-to-date.
With the increases that we’ve seen in every area – from donor applicants to interview, to cycles to manage and medical records to request (and fax, and file, and update…), these ladies have jumped in with both feet and done a stellar job helping our program grow with grace.
Sunday, January 10th, 2010
I stumbled upon the idea of egg donation a couple of years ago when a friend was looking at job postings on Craigslist. While neither of us considered the idea too seriously at the time; it stuck with me, not as a money making idea, but as an awesome thing to do for a woman or a family. I looked at a few donation websites recently and when I found BHED, I knew this was something I wanted to do. I immediately felt comfortable with their website and staff, and started to get really excited about the possibility of my little eggs creating a life for someone else.
As I grow older, I can feel an inner tugging towards wanting a family. My mom always used to tell me the story of how she decided to have my older brother and me. She had lunch with an old friend who had a newborn baby and thought, “It’s time. I want that.” When I was young, I thought I never wanted kids and my mom’s story sounded so cliche to me. I’m not ready to have kids now, but I’m finally beginning to understand how my mom felt. To have a baby inside you is such a gift. I want to help make that happen for someone.
-Allie, donor #7265
Monday, October 12th, 2009
During the early years of IVF treatment, it was always assumed that transferring more embryos would improve success rates. Even 20 years ago, it quickly became apparent that this success came at the expense of a high multiple birth rate. In response o this, many European countries and Australia limited the number of embryos that could be legally transferred to woman’s uterus. While laudable, these restrictions tend to be rigid and do not always take into account the age of the producer.
In the U.S., we have adopted a voluntary system through the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). The ASRM has published guidelines that take into account maternal age and are more flexible. However, as seen in the recent case of the famous octuplets, there are no serious consequences when a poor outcome is attributed to not adhering to these guidelines.
While these measures have greatly reduced the incidence of triplets and higher-order multiple births, the incidence of twins remains high, especially with egg donation. Many patients may think this is fine. In fact, many couples express a desire to have twins. Their preferences are affected by a belief that transferring two or three embryos improves success rates, and, for some, a financial motive that sees twins as a “two-for-the-price of one.”
The success rate belief may be inaccurate. Many European studies, as well as our experience, strongly suggest that the success rates with two day-3 embryos is equal to the success rate with one good quality (day-5) blastocyst. The ASRM guidelines allow either choice. Yet, many clinics are still transferring two blastocysts, with predictably high twin rates. So, what’s wrong with that?
The problem with twins is that they have a 50% chance of being born prematurely. As a result, they have higher rates of cerebral palsy and other complications of prematurity. The combined medical costs from IVF twins due to ICU care and life-long complications from prematurity are easily in the billions of dollars. Furthermore, from conception to delivery, there is a reduced chance of actually delivering two live babies. Even when twins are born close to term and are healthy, there are considerable financial and emotional costs associated with them.
With appropriate statistical analysis, it may be possible to demonstrate that the chance of a live birth is the same after the transfer of one blastocyst compared to the transfer of two embryos.
While twins may seem cute and a bargain at first, patients undergoing egg donation should inform themselves of the risks of twins and discuss the potential merits of single embryo transfer (SET) with their physician.
- Michael Feinman, MD
Medical Director, HRC Fertility
Huntington Reproductive Center Medical Group
Friday, October 2nd, 2009
When choosing an egg donor, it is understandable that women will want to select a donor who is similar to themselves in appearance and ethnic background. As with many aspects of Jewish Law, what may seem obvious and desirable may not conform to rabbinical interpretations of the Law. Ironically, since it is sometimes difficult to find suitable Jewish donors, these legal twists can actually help some people “let go” of their desire to work only with Jewish donors.
There are three concerns that rabbis have addressed in their discussions regarding the selection of egg donors. The first is accidental incest. The second is the legal status of a woman’s eggs. The third, and possibly the most important to recipients, is the Jewish status of the children born through egg donation.
Reasonable concerns exist that due to the anonymity of most egg donation arrangements, the actual children of the donor could accidentally marry the offspring of the woman who received her eggs. Sounds far-fetched, but rabbis worry about such things.
As to the status of the eggs, rabbis have agreed that according to Jewish Law, a husband has a legal attachment to his wife’s eggs. In theory, according to Jewish Law, the resulting offspring could have a claim on the donor’s husband in a Jewish court of law.
While Reform Judaism recognizes that parentage can come from either parent, traditionally most, but not all, rabbis have agreed that if a Jewish woman gives birth to the baby, that child is fully Jewish. The Laws determining a child’s family and religion of origin were established thousands of years ago – long before genetic testing – and so Jewishness is passed from the mother who gives birth rather than from the genetic parents.
Based on these three considerations, the following principles can guide most Jewish couples considering egg donation:
A Jewish donor is not legally required for a Jewish couple. Based on the concerns about accidental incest and the legal status of eggs, a non-Jewish donor may actually be preferable. Accepting this idea can alleviate much of the angst over trying to find a Jewish donor which can be difficult.
If a Jewish woman is chosen, she should be single or married to a non-Jewish man. If she is divorced, she needs a Jewish divorce, including a “Get.”
The process of choosing an egg donor is different for every family. There are an endless number of things to consider in making such an important decision. If observing Jewish Law is a priority for the Intended Parent(s), then finding a Jewish donor is not only unnecessary, but potentially undesirable. Ideally, this will be helpful to some as the pool of potential donors will be enlarged significantly.
- Michael Feinman, MD
Medical Director, HRC Fertility
Huntington Reproductive Center Medical Group
Monday, September 28th, 2009
If you’re registered as an egg donor, getting a new tattoo becomes a decision that can have a much bigger affect than you’d ever anticipated. For a potential recipient who has spent weeks pouring over donor profiles (and sometimes thousands of dollars on previous failed IVF cycles), only to fall in love with their perfect match, news that their ideal donor has gotten a tattoo from an unlicensed facility can be devastating.
All of this can be avoided if you keep in mind that potential donors cannot donate their eggs if they’ve had a tattoo or body piercing within the past six months to a year – typically six months for a piercing and one year for a tattoo. The only exception to this rule is if you can provide written and signed proof that your tattoo or piercing was administered at a state-regulated facility, using a sterile technique. Even then, however, some doctors will still require that donors wait eight weeks before donating – one clinic still requires donors to wait the full 12 months! To make things even more complicated, the official regulations vary from state to state, and only 32 states even have such regulations. If you choose to have your tattoo or piercing administered in a state that does not enforce regulations, you can be sure that you’ll be in for an extremely long wait before you’re finally able to donate.
If you’re serious about wanting to donate and help a family in need, Beverly Hills Egg Donation recommends that you hold off on any plans for a new tattoo or piercing until after you’ve completed your donation cycle(s).
Friday, September 25th, 2009
You know when you get something new…you go home and hang it up/lay it out/try it on/unpack it/reorganize it, and it just makes you all happy and fulfilled? Like, when you go to Target and come home with $300 worth of things you don’t need (but might need one day way, way in the future) and you put them all in your cabinets and bathroom and kitchen like back stock in a stockroom, and there’s this strange overwhelming sense of pride and satisfaction that only you can appreciate? Because, it’s not like you bought new shoes – it’s toilet paper and Ziploc sandwich bags.
The start of a cycle is like that for me, but taken to a new level…because my stockroom has things that no one else I know will ever have. I have drugs in vials that need to be mixed. I have syringes and needles. I have a biohazard receptacle! And when I get home from work and the Fed Ex box with the cooler of medication is sitting on my stoop, my blood pressure rises and my heart races…project! I always arrange my supplies in my kitchen before a cycle, including wrapping the ugly burgundy biohazard container up in paper (I mean, who has a burgundy color scheme?).
I think it’s safe for me to admit that I am afflicted with situational OCD, and it manifests at times like this. I embrace it. And, OCD or not, I think you’ll find that setting up your supplies as if they were ingredients for a chocolate chip cookie recipe makes the fact that you are about to inject a needle into your stomach just a little easier to digest.
-Kate, BHED Donor