In our real life series, we hear from real women who have gone through real life changing experiences and and find out how this has impacted them. This story is written by one of my friends who has chosen to remain anonymous. I was so intrigued when I heard of what she had done and she gladly wrote this article on her experience of donating eggs.
THE FRUIT OF MY WOMB
By a 20something old girl
I was 20 and hated my retail job. Folding overpriced jeans had me bored out of my mind and my boyfriend at the time and I were convinced we could break the internet and become dollar millionaires off of it rather than stay at jobs we hated. We researched site after site declaring we could make $1000 in one day: just sign up here.
My boyfriend then happened upon a site where you could be a sperm donor but the payout was pathetic. What did pay however was eggs. Eggs from healthy 18-30 year old women who wanted to give other women the opportunity to have children but couldn’t. R7000 to be exact. And all I had to do was pass a medical test and donate eggs that were going to be flushed out by my next period anyways- sign me up!
I was intrigued but of course it wasn’t that easy. The sign up process was long and I had to provide medical histories of my parents and grandparents, be assessed by a psychologist as well as provide baby pictures of myself; so the couple would have an idea of the exact kind DNA they would be procuring.
That’s when it hit me. Once this was done I would essentially be giving a couple a chance to have a child; with half my genetic make up. Did this make me a mother? My eggs would be fused with the father’s sperm and then inserted into his wife/partner who would carry and birth the child. All they had to do was have plus minus R47 000 and their dream child would be harvested from my womb. Complete with artistic hobbies and a stellar academic record according to my profile.
I admit curiosity and the prospect of easy money were the main reasons I went through with it. The bolt thing that wasn’t so easy was having to inject myself in my stomach with hormones at the same time every day. I am not afraid of needles but the hormones did make me have mood swings. I became emotional and remember weeping for hours one night while on the phone with my boyfriend. The smallest things he said set me off into hours of sullen silence I could not explain.
The gynecologists I was assigned to were always jolly middle-aged men who treated my body like a healthy specimen waiting to ripen. They would crack jokes as they pulled a condom over a dildo like stick they would insert into me and magically examine my cervix on an ultra sound monitor. We would chat about my hopes and dreams as they noted how my womb was doing and how much longer till they harvested the eggs. Harvest; that was the official term they used. I felt like a good patch of land ready for a bountiful crop.
After a few weeks of the hormone treatment and frequent check ups it was decided that I was indeed ready to be harvested. I was put on anaesthesia for the actual op but the doctor kept assuring me that what I was doing was very good, very selfless, I was helping the world. Did I know how many people wanted children? And not to worry. There are no side effects, as soon as I was ready to have my own child I would fall pregnant quite easily.
As the anaesthesia knocked me out I had an image of little mini-me’s running through the greenest farm I had ever seen. I smiled and passed out.
When I woke up I had a drip in my arm and a cheerful nurse smiling down at me. My boyfriend was on the other side (you have to have someone there to drive you home). The nurse told me they had gotten 13 eggs: I had done well apparently. I was dizzy and my tummy was a bit tender but there were no incisions; “We just sucked them out…” I remembered the gynae saying.
I received a cheque, made out to me on the way out and got a thank you from reception. I cashed the cheque the very next day and a few days later my period came. Heavier than usual but nothing was amiss. About a month or so later I got an email from the donor agency; the eggs hadn’t taken so there was no pregnancy… Oh and would I like to donate again in a few months?
A part of me was sad that I had not been able to give the gift of life all those doctors and nurses and I imagine the couple had been so excited about. Another part of me was relieved. I had started imagining bumping into a child in a few years who vaguely looked like me… A R7000 child in a designer stroller being adored and pampered by his or her rich parents… Would I feel a tug in my heart? Would I instinctively know she had a part of me in her and would she feel the same? Perhaps the adoring look on her parent’s face would assure me I did the right thing… Perhaps.
In South Africa the legislated amount compensated to donors is R7000. This amount, which donors receive as compensation for their egg donation gift, includes compensation for their time, effort and discomfort. It is left by the recipient, in cash, with the clinic, who hand it to the donor on the day of and after, the egg retrieval.