Tuesday, June 03, 2008

So, um, wow. What to do?

An infertile friend has asked me whether I would consider donating some eggs to her.

Because obviously important life decisions should only be taken in consultation with the entire internet, I have to ask: what would you do?

Considerations:

  • she isn't a super close friend, but certainly is someone who I would be very happy to build a closer friendship with. (She doesn't have any close friends or family in Australia, so that's why she thought of me rather than someone closer.)
  • We are both on the same page in terms of how we would want the relationship to work: the child should know that it was genetically related to me, and I would be a sort of aunt or close family friend. I wouldn't see the child as "mine" in any way, though.
  • I have plenty of experience with the difference between "genetically related" and "family", as I am adopted and have a good relationship with my biological mother and her children, while in no way thinking of her as "my mother" or as having any legal ties to me.
  • I know this friend's husband and his children (from a previous marriage) and from what I can tell they are great parents and the kids are very happy.
I guess the things I am most concerned about are the medical risks, and also the fact that you can never know exactly how you'd feel about something until you do it. What if it turned me into some sort of weird insane stalker person who kidnapped babies?

23 Comments:

JustMe said...

hmm, yah the medical risks would worry me most if i were in your position... also yah, it seems like the kind of thing i wouldn't be able to predict exactly how i would feel after, but that's just me. anyway, good luck with the decision.

Weekend_Viking said...

I'd do it if I had eggs to donate, and if I thought the person sane and reasonable enough to raise the child, and I think you're cool and should breed cool children, so yeah, do it. Although bear in mind the egg release treatment involves a bit of hormonal rollercoastering, according to my sister, who had to do it for ivf (functional womb, but badly scarred fallopian tubes, so had to concieve via ivf).

To become a wierd insane stalker person, I think you have to actually bear the child, rather than just donate eggs. It's all to do with oxytocin.

k said...

I saw an interesting British doco on the ABC or SBS on this some time ago: A woman who could neither conceive nor carry the baby, had one sister donate the eggs and the other sister carried out the baby. It seemed all rather complicated and it did show how they all felt rather different things at different times, ie rollercoasting on their decisions, if that makes sense. not that I am suggesting TV to be the answer, but you might find that doco interesting...

k said...

here is the link to the doco

http://www.dfgdocs.com/Directory/Titles/521.aspx

or

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4370804.stm

these are very positive articles, I remember the film being more ambiguous, but maybe that was just my reaction :)

Miss M. said...

I'd say read up on the medical stuff, and be sure you have a good idea of everything involved before going one way or the other. All of the people-things (does that make sense?) about this seem to be positive though, so in your position I'd probably go for it.

Julep said...

If it were me, I'd want to talk to her about why she approached me instead of an egg donation agency. Just how close of a relationship does she expect you to have with her and her child? If she doesn't have family there, does that mean she plans to move away? How would that change things?

Just some thoughts to consider before you make such a big decision.

Ianqui said...

Um, yeah, wow. I have no idea what I'd do in your situation, and I can't give you advice, exactly. But you should think about the medical risks, of course (they're probably not that bad) and also how likely it is that she'll conceive on the first shot. Because how many times are they going to be harvesting your eggs? I understand it's not a pleasant process, and it does involve your going on fertility medicine. And will your insurance pay for this, or is she going to cover all of the costs?

The History Enthusiast said...

"Wow" is right!

I don't have any sage advice, other than that you should think about this a whole lot before you decide (but I'm sure you already know that).

Ianqui said...

BTW--I realize you're not American and so the insurance situation is probably entirely different than what goes on here. My only point was to think about how it's all going to be paid for!

Seeking Solace said...

Wow...I don't know what I would say to that.

I would want to know why she would choose me instead of a family member. I would want to read up on everything before I made such a huge commitment.

Wow.

liina said...

Wow. Tough one. Getting your ovaries stimulated to produce lots of eggs is no fun. BUT there's a bigger picture here.
I don't knwo what I would do in your shoes. I'm glad no one's asked me...

Helen said...

I think the big thing is making sure you understand all the physical effects it may have on you first.

I'd never do it. If someone could come up with a way I could give my eggs away without any harm to me, I'd do it in a heartbeat though.

Pilgrim/Heretic said...

If it were me, I'd do it... I've never had any interest in having my own kids, but I'd like to see what my half of the DNA look like passed on to someone else. It'd be cool to see a kid that was partly biologically mine but that I didn't need to have any real responsibility over. (though you might want to consider how you'd feel if this person turned out to have very different child-rearing practices than your own.)

And speaking from the internets point of view, if you become a weird insane stalker person, at least that would make for some awesome blogging.

Jana said...

Most of the posts here have focused on the medical side (my sister went through it, too, for IVF, and, yes, it is no fun), so here's a different thought:

You may find that there is a real joy in helping someone else to such a degree. You may also find that helping to bring another life into the world is something really important, something you gain a lot of satisfaction from having done.

You might also really enjoy being an aunt. It's a way to "try before you buy" (to be absolutely cynical). If you decide you don't want children of your own (i.e., with Geekman), you'll have the best of both worlds. I'm going to be an aunt in October, and I'm really looking forward to it.

Oh, yeah. One other thing. You have awesome genes that should definitely be passed on! :-)

Kelly said...

I'm with jana - this is a selfless thing you could do to change your friend's life with relatively minor risk on your part. You seem to be in a good headspace for this, but I think you should read everything you can get your hands on about the genetic donor/child interaction.

The questions others have raised seem very valid. Given that you are not the closest of friends with this woman, why did she ask you? How many others has she asked?

Is it all covered under the national health system? I would imagine that it would be *for you*, maybe not for her. Not sure how these things work in NZ to compare.

Please do read about the medical side of egg donation - but it is a well-tested procedure that I have never heard causing irreparable harm to any woman. The hormones would be the worst and longest-lasting part of it, and you would need to prepare for the emotional roller coaster they would involve. This affects Geekman, too, so what does he think?

How does this mesh with your views on having your own children? I suppose there may be timeline issues where egg donation would push back the time you could begin trying yourself. I woke up one day and decided it was time to start trying to have children...and it took months before I got pregnant (shhh, haven't told anyone at work yet). Keep in mind how this will affect your own timeline.

Most of all, I am pleasantly amazed at how well you have seemed to be handling the issues - though of course you could be a basket case on the other side of the monitor. (hugs)

twirly said...

I of course would support you if you chose to do it, but we can have a conversation on medical side of things. It is a very invasive procedure and can have long term issues that are not even known at this point. I can point you to some peer-reviewed medical journal articles. I am probably being evil here and people will hate me, but I think IVF is selfish and I think you should think about IVF from a global perspective. In addition, be very aware of the fact that she could end up with multiples so it might not just be one baby. Do you hate me for saying this. I hope not - cause I really likes you!

StyleyGeek said...

Thanks for all the advice, everyone!

I think my own thoughts on the issue are pretty much like what Jana said: it sounds like it would be fun to meet this kid and watch it grow up without any of the responsibility for raising it. And, as Pilgrim/Heretic said, seeing what half my genes look like would be pretty awesome.

Julep - she had some pretty valid reasons for approaching me instead of an agency. First, she wanted someone who she knows, as she feels it gives a better idea of what the child might be like. Second, she wanted someone who would be prepared to at least get to know the child and have some sort of relationship with him/her, which people who donate to agencies most commonly don't want. Third, she is German, and wanted someone who could speak German with the child, as she wants it to grow up bilingual.

She's unlikely to move away, as her husbands other children have some awkward custody arrangement where they live with him and my friend, but are not allowed to be taken away from this city. She and her husband have just bought a beautiful house that they are renovating, and I think that indicates a plan to stay here long term. The big question is, though, what if WE move away? I need to ask her how she would feel about that. (I'd be happy to be a long-distance aunt/friend/godmother.)

Ianqui - the situation with regard to expenses, is that it is mostly covered under the national health system - I think, for all of us, as her husband is Australian and she has permanent residence. There are some out-of-pocket expenses too, but she would be paying those. They only have to harvest the eggs once, as they should get enough for her to have multiple tries from the one harvest (the clinic has around a 25% success rate).

Kelly - congratulations, by the way! It doesn't affect my "timeline" or anything, as I'm not really sure I want children of my own, and if I did have them, it wouldn't be for a few years yet. But there is a small chance that the harvesting can damage an ovary, which can affect your own fertility later on. I think the risk of this is acceptable to me, though.

The other risks are similar to any medical procedure, I guess - chance of reaction to the drugs, chance of reaction to the sedation, chance of medical error when harvesting, which could cause damage to surrounding organs, or cause bleeding. Chance of infection. I saw a statistic which says 1.5% of donors have complications, which sounds horribly high, but I think this includes things like bleeding after the harvesting, or unpleasant but not permanently damaging reactions to the hormones.

StyleyGeek said...

Twirly - just saw your comment. Can I call you and talk about this? You have my email. If you send me a ph number, I'll try to work out a time when we are both awake. Or do you Skype?

StyleyGeek said...

As for the possibility of multiples, though, that doesn't bother me. One baby, lots of babies, why would that make a difference?

And I disagree that IVF is selfish per se. I think it might be if you were using it to have kids when you already had some. But this woman has never had a child, so if she has one, it's not even replacement rate. And if you mean it's selfish because she could adopt, the adoption situation within Australia is such that there is more demand for children than there are children available, excluding perhaps teenagers/abused children/disabled children, and not everyone is equipped to deal with that sort of situation. And international adoption brings a whole separate set of ethical questions. I think the fact that my friend is essentially parenting two children already who are not "hers" means she has filled her "unselfish" quota!

(But I still would like to ask you about the medical stuff).

liz said...

No one has mentioned it here so I just thought I'd say that you should look into the legal aspect, too.

But I say go for it if you want to!

Bardiac said...

I have a several friends who've been VERY glad that other friends were willing to donate eggs so that they could have a kids.

From seeing the joy of my several friends as parents, I'd encourage you. But I know nothing of medical risks or anything.

Good luck with your decision.

Sarah said...

If you're prepared to accept a minor risk to your own fertility then go for it. You sound like you've got your head around the psychological side of it (although the hormones are bound to mess with that for a while, surely). If I were in that position I wouldn't donate until after I'd had kids of my own, but only because that is important to me. I think it's a really lovely thing to do and it probably took a lot for her to even ask you... it's a pretty huge request to make of a person, I think.

Kate said...

I had to undergo IVF to get pregnant for factors relating to my husband. I managed to forge a great relationship with my infertility doctor, which gave me a lot of control over the amount and type of drugs I had.

Because there's nothing wrong with you, you should be able to work with the doctor to get the lowest possible amount of hormones. Yes they need several eggs from you, but they can afford to go easy because you'll respond well. I would be more than happy to talk to you more about how to talk to the doc about this over email. That way you will minimize side effects. I had almost zero side effects (you can read the IVF label on my blog to see how it all went for me last year).