IFLG-What-Is-It-Like-to-Be-An-Egg-Donor-5-Things-You-May-Not-Know-Rich-Vaughn-2

What Is It Like to Be An Egg Donor? 5 Things You May Not Know

After years of working in the fertility field, first as an agency employee and later as an assisted reproductive technology (ART) fertility lawyer, the first piece of advice I would offer a woman considering becoming an egg donor is to gather as much information as you can before you make a commitment, and certainly before you enter into an agreement to become an egg donor.

The first thing to note is that in the vast majority of assisted reproduction cases, the egg donor and intended parents are not previously acquainted. No more than one in every 20 or 30 egg donors I have worked with is personally known to the intended parents. In most cases, the egg donor is matched to intended parents through an egg donor agency.

Donors will receive lots of information about an egg donation program from the donor agency or IVF clinic with which they are working. An experienced fertility lawyer can also help inform and guide donors and intended parents through the process.

Once the egg donor is fully informed about all potential risks, consequences, and rewards, and if still motivated to participate, she can proceed in the knowledge that she is helping to fulfill someone’s dream of becoming a parent.

Here are five things you may not know about egg donation:

1. An egg donor must have her own legal representation

This is true even in cases when the egg donor is a relative or friend of the intended parents… in fact, especially if the egg donor is a relative or friend!

While egg donors and intended parents are not on different sides, and all parties generally want the same outcome—a healthy baby—it is still essential that the egg donor have her own attorney to ensure her safety and rights are protected and that all parties understand what is required of them.

As reported by the advocacy organization Path2Parenthood (now merged with Family Equality Council), cost-benefit analyses show that the benefits of legal representation and a written donor agreement far outweigh the costs.

Once the initial intake and screening are completed, the egg donor will be required to sign an egg donor agreement with the intended parents, which will spell out the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of each party. Ideally, by the time the parties are ready to sign the agreement, the egg donor will have a clear, comprehensive understanding of the egg donation process and what is involved. 

2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the egg donation process

Do this even if they seem silly!

Make sure you fully understand the legal, psychological, and medical aspects of becoming an egg donor and that you are comfortable with them.

For egg donors working with an agency, many questions will be addressed during the intake and screening process, before donors are matched with an intended parent or parents. In particular, be sure you understand clearly the medical procedures involved and the medication protocols you will be asked to follow prior to the procedure. 

One of the biggest pitfalls egg donors encounter is a failure to follow the often complex medication regimen, which usually includes self-injection with fertility medications. Failure to complete the regimen correctly can result in a failure to successfully harvest viable eggs. Egg donors should be certain they clearly understand the medical process and what is required of them to stay safe and ensure a successful cycle.

3. Make sure you understand your agency’s policies on expense reimbursement

This advice holds true for egg donors and intended parents alike. Your agreement as an egg donor will include details of who is responsible for specific types of expenses. It can be tempting for excited intended parents to skip over the details, only to be surprised later to learn that the donor agreement requires them to reimburse the donor for per diem or travel and other expenses incurred.

Understand up front what is reimbursable and how reimbursements will be handled; intended parents should factor these expenses into the overall cost of their family-building efforts. Donors should be equally clear on what will and will not be reimbursed and what is included in their compensation.

4. Think carefully about the “myth of anonymity” before making your decision to become an egg donor

When I began working in the ART field, egg donors (and sperm donors) could safely expect to remain anonymous—and they preferred it that way. Breach-of-privacy concerns were limited to accidental breaches, such as leaving a private paper out for prying eyes to see or an accidentally mailed document.

The world has changed since then. Facial recognition software and genealogical websites such as 23andMe and Ancestry.com have made it increasingly easy to locate genetic family members. 

While your donor agreement will state the intentions or rights of each party to pursue future contact or maintain anonymity, keep in mind that the child who will be born is not a party to your agreement. It is nearly impossible to control the behavior of a person who is not even born yet.

Potential egg donors should take into consideration that anonymity is quickly becoming a thing of the past before making the commitment to become an egg donor.

5. Understand that egg donation means committing to a detailed, time-consuming process, but is ultimately a beautiful gift that will change someone’s life for the better

Being an egg donor is an incredible gift that you can give to someone who needs your help.  Most intended parents understand that creating a family via assisted reproduction is neither quick nor easy. Likewise, egg donors should understand the steps needed for successful donation and the time that will be required to complete those steps.

Each egg donor will be required to undergo medical and psychological screenings to determine general health, presence of any genetic or communicable disease, viability of eggs and psychological suitability to undergo the medication and harvesting procedures. Once a donor successfully completes these essential screenings, it may still take weeks or months to be matched with an intended parent or parents.

In my experience, women decide to become egg donors for a variety of reasons. Those who are motivated solely by money typically are eliminated during the screening process. 

Most donors, at the end of the day, have a sincere desire to help others; the fact they can make money and help someone else in the process is a double bonus. Many do not want to have children of their own but understand that their ability to procreate can help someone else realize the dream of parenthood. A remarkable number also express a desire to help members of the LGBTQ community specifically to have equal opportunities to become parents. 

Regardless of the motivation, donating eggs so that another person can have a child is a beautiful gift that will change someone’s life.

If you are an intended parent considering using an egg donor, or if you are an egg donor seeking legal advice, please contact the experienced fertility lawyers at IFLG for more information.

Molly O'Brien
Molly O'Brien
molly@iflg.net

Molly O'Brien has worked in the field of assisted reproduction since 2005. In that time, she worked for an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency, where she became familiar with all aspects of in vitro fertilization and egg donation, including the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, she has gained extensive experience in drafting and negotiating surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation and embryo donation contracts on behalf of her clients throughout the world.

Peiya Wang
PEIYA WANG(王培娅)
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya received her bachelor’s degree from Beijing Technologies and Business University, where she majored in Marketing. She moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeast University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa
LUIS SOSA
Paralegal

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes
TONI HUGES
Paralegal

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”

Miesha Cowart
MIESHA COWART
Financial Coordinator

Miesha Cowart joined IFLG as a financial specialist in 2014 following a successful career in development and business finance. Miesha previously worked for 10 years in the construction industry as a controller and for 13 years as Development Coordinator for the non-profit U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In her free time, Miesha works with “Next Generation” at her church. “They are my heartbeats!” she says of the youth in her community.

Kim
KIM DEVEREAUX
Paralegal

Kim has over 25 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager of surrogacy and egg donation cases, and is also responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn
RICHARD B. VAUGHN
Founder

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo
ELIZABETH TAMAYO
Paralegal

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien
SUNNY CHIEN
Paralegal

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

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Molly O'Brien
MOLLY O'BRIEN
Partner

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.