Steven H. Snyder & Associates Attorneys at Law

Do you want to donate your eggs? Understanding ovum donation.

Whether you want to help a friend or family member or just want to help someone you have never met, there are many reasons why you may be considering donating your eggs. In order to help you make up your mind on how to proceed, we will discuss a few facts of ovum donation.

No. 1: Understanding the egg retrieval process

Donating your eggs is a two-phase medical procedure. In the first phase, you will take medications to hyperstimulate the ovaries. In the second phase, the eggs are removed through a surgical process.

No. 2: Anonymous versus knowing the recipient

Some women investigate the possibility of egg donation because they want to help a close friend or family member who is struggling to conceive. While this is certainly admirable, know that tensions can arise between you and your friend, no matter how close you are, and that things may not go as planned. Because of this, no matter what, make sure to have an express written agreement in place that addresses all of the responsibilities you will both have and address any potential practical or legal risks. If you are donating to someone you already know, you, as the donor, will be "known," or identifiable to the recipient parents and the resulting child(ren).

If you do not have someone in mind, you can also be known donor so that the recipients and the child can communicate directly with you, or you can be an anonymous donor so that such contact cannot intentionally happen. There are additional potential practical and legal risks here, so again, you will want to have a legal agreement in place that covers all aspects of the egg donation, including any compensation.

No. 3: Payment for ovum donation

You can receive compensation for donating your eggs. However, as Stanford University points out in its Egg Donor Information Project, research has found that those who go through the procedure strictly to receive compensation do have a higher chance of regretting the decision than those who primarily decide to donate in order to help another woman. A good heart rather than a hungry wallet is the best reason to consider being an egg donor.

The college also goes on to point to research, which says the optimal donor is someone who is married and has children of their own, and is not financially struggling. One of the reasons having had children of your own is cited is that the donation process entails physical risks that, in extreme cases, may affect your own ability to have children later.

No. 4: Physical Risks

There are numerous physical risks that accompany the donation process. Some of them are very serious. Although the doctors who perform these medical procedures say such risks are manageable and infrequent, they still exist. Even if a particular risk occurs only once in every thousand donations, if you are the "one," you will still be adversely affected and unhappy. Every prospective donor should consult her own, independent medical professional to learn about, assess, and choose whether to undertake the donation process in light of the physical risks it entails.

All of this said, not everyone who wants to can donate. There are criteria that must be met, which will include a medical screening to make sure you are someone who can safely go through both phases of the ovum donation process.

Finally, egg donation is a medical process, but it is also a legal process, and the first step should be to contact an attorney. Unintended residual parental rights can continue to exist in some states after egg donation, and, contrary to what many clinics tell you, those consents do NOT address or terminate any such residual rights or legal risks. Whether you are interested in donating to someone you know or someone you don't, you will want to understand all the physical and legal risks and responsibilities and make sure the proper legal contracts are in place.

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