Donor: Delhi, India
Wow! How do I even begin to describe my experience as an egg donor? 'Most incredible experience of my life' still doesn't sum it up with nearly as much enthusiasm as it should. But I suppose I should just begin at the beginning, right? Oh, and make yourself comfortable. This will probably be long winded.
A little less than a year ago I stumbled across an ad for Global Egg Donors online. Coming from Australia, a country that likes to make the process of egg donation as difficult and as hushed as possible, I had never realised that donating was ever an option available to me. After reading stories on the GED website of people finally being able to conceive due to the help of egg donors, I knew that this was something really special and something I wanted to be a part of. So after doing a lot of research, and trawling my way through the very thorough GED application process, I was on my way to becoming a donor!
Once the application was out of the way, I was really surprised at how quickly the whole process moved along. Before I knew it I was receiving an email from Karen, my donor support, saying that a couple from Canada, wanted to know if I would donate for them. Wow! Let me tell you - knowing that a couple would like you to donate eggs for them is one of the most special things in the world. I don't think there is a bigger honour than being able to contribute to the creation of a family. Without wanting to sound too cheesy, I really do feel so blessed to have been invited into this process.
The donation was to take place in India and I was very excited about this as India was somewhere I had always wanted to visit. My family and friends didn't quite share in that excitement, being somewhat convinced that the whole egg donation thing was secretly a front for kidney thieves, just waiting to sell my organs on the black market. I can understand their concern, after all it is unusual for an Australian girl to fly to India to donate eggs to a Canadian couple she hasn't even met, but I knew through my own research and interactions with the GED staff that GED were as legitimate as it gets. (Plus, I'm sure there are easier ways to get a kidney than setting up an entire phoney egg donation practice (although I don't know that from experience)). My support people, Karen and Fiona, were SO great in explaining and organising all the details of my trip for me, and answered any questions I had along the way. These women are superstars!
So I finished my last exam just days before leaving for India – I had been so busy with my studies in the lead up to it all that I barely had time to process what I was actually getting myself in for until the morning of my flight!
As I arrived at the airport to leave, however, all of a sudden I knew that what I was doing was bigger than myself, and that even though I had never met this couple and knew very little about them, I knew in that moment that I would do anything for them.
And so I arrived in Delhi, jet lagged and bloated from hormones, in 44 degree Celsius heat. Thankfully the hotel had air conditioning. If I could give a prize to anything in my whole experience as an egg donor, the air conditioning would come very, very close to winning.
I was part of a group of six girls who were all donating in Delhi at the same time (though we ended up numbering nine once you added two friends-of-donors and Robin, founder of GED, who also joined us for most of our stay).
As the only first-time donor of the group, I had support coming at me from every which way! The other girls really were so kind in making sure I knew what was happening at each stage of the process, and making sure I was feeling ok.
I honestly can't begin to say how much I loved our little group of donors-and-friends. I was initially worried at how the social dynamic would work as most of us were injecting hormones twice a day, but we all bonded so quickly and got along really well. Together we visited countless markets, temples, restaurants and some of us even ventured out to the neighbouring city of Agra to see the TajMahal. Having Robin along was such a blast, too! Not only was she super kind to us donors, she was loads of fun!
Delhi itself was such an amazing place – an absolute mix of extremes. It was hot, colourful, polluted, noisy, friendly, busy, poor, rich etc. I fell in love with all the brightly coloured saris – why doesn't western culture make use of such great colours?
The attention you get for being a Western female in India can also be a bit overwhelming. People aren't afraid of staring quite openly at Westerners, especially women. It can be a little uncomfortable and awkward, and the best way of dealing with this was to dress conservatively and to try and ignore it (I found that the dressing conservative part difficult. Not because I'm any kind of raging hussy, but because the average temperature was around 45 degrees Celsius).
Of all the aspects of the donation process, the actual medical procedure was the element that I was least nervous about. I figured that it's been a path well-trodden by many women before me, and a process that (due to being anaesthetised and all) I couldn't really do much about, except for taking my medications diligently and showing up on the day. There's not a lot I can really say about the procedure – it really was very easy. There was a little bit of discomfort afterwards, but it only lasted a few hours.
On my second last day in Delhi I came down with a tummy bug. Finally – something I don't feel ridiculously enthusiastic about, right? It was sad not to be able to leave Delhi on a more upbeat note, but again the other girls and Robin were great in making sure I was alright. And by the time I was due to go home I was feeling well enough to travel so it was back to the slightly more bearable Australian winter for me! I was really sad to leave all the other donors – I miss them all already, but thanks to social networking I guess we will never really be too far away, right?
So I guess in conclusion I can say that I really did have an incredible experience as an egg donor. I'm so, so excited for my couple and the journey that they are going on and I'm sending every positive thought/prayer/hope their way! I really am so lucky to have gone through this experience and I can't wait for the next adventure when I donate again!
"It’s such an awesome feeling to know I have helped people in a way that not many people can! It really makes me realise what is important in life and what is worth spending energy on."
"It’s a strange gig, being an egg donor – you feel so invested in a couple you've never met; you have so much hope and love and joy and other cheesy conceptual nouns for them – it is a difficult thing to explain. I really am cheering for you guys so loudly you can probably hear it!"
"I might not be someone who goes sky diving or climbing Mount Everest to collect money for charity, but this is my Mount Everest. Donating eggs to another woman is one of my greatest achievements, memories and experiences in my life. "