Why do egg donors decide to donate? As a donor egg coordinator for the past 15 years, I have been blessed to work with hundreds of donors and recipients. And I hear this question a lot.
They decide to donate because they care; because they have friends who have struggled to conceive; because they want to do something for others. Sure, the money is a nice bonus, but the money is fleeting. Donating eggs takes a very dedicated individual. The donors we know donate because it feels like the right thing to do.
Many recipients may not be aware of an egg donor’s journey and how she got to the place of being a fully screened donor. A donor has to undergo months of screening tests before compensation is even a possibility—and after that she has to undergo an IVF cycle to retrieve her oocytes before reaching full compensation. At Fairfax EggBank we accept less than 1% of those who apply to become a donor.
All in all, the minimum time frame is four months from screening to egg retrieval. Many potential egg donors start the process, and then quickly self-select out. For them, the investment of time isn’t worth the possibility of future compensation. Only egg donors who are truly motivated and have altruistic intentions to help others stay the course—and that motivation goes above and beyond the compensation.
Once starting an egg donation cycle, the donor’s life becomes quite regimented, following a strict schedule of appointments, injections, more appointments and more injections until the egg retrieval occurs. Donor egg coordinators speak to the egg donors almost daily during this time frame. Some are excited, some are exhausted, and some are scared.
Yet no matter how they feel, almost every single one I’ve worked with has asked me how their counterparts—the patients struggling with infertility— are doing. So many of them have expressed how they feel a great responsibility to do the injections correctly, to do everything as carefully as possible because they know how important this is to someone else.
After all, someone’s dreams are on the line.
And I think that says something important about our egg donors: They feel so much compassion for women they have never met. Only rarely do we see an egg donor who seems disinterested in the process. (Donor egg coordinators are very keen to pick up on this; egg donors who seem irresponsible are flagged by the coordinators, as we take their role very seriously.) Again, we see that money is not the prime motivation for our successful egg donors who make it all the way through this process.
Because of my role, I am often asked why an egg donor would donate. As the “middleman” on a very private journey, I have seen firsthand the reasons women donate eggs. I have spoken with them about motivation, and my experience has taught me something very valuable: egg donors may originally be enticed by the money, but they don’t stay with the program for that reason. There is something else compelling them to proceed: a commitment to help.