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Assisted Reproduction

Response to “The Ultimate Easter Egg Hunt: ‘Ivy League Couple’ Seeks Donor With ‘Highest Scores’”

On Thursday morning, The Washington Post posted an article addressing the risks of egg donation. You can read the article here.

In summary, the article calls egg donation “eugenics on steroids,” citing a recent ad in the Harvard Crimson in which a couple asks for “ a ‘100% Korean woman’ with an excellent education, ‘outstanding’ test scores, ‘extremely healthy family history,’ plus an ‘altruistic nature,’ and a ‘slim build.’” What the article does not address clearly is that this request is clearly an extreme. Yes, writer Melinda Henneberger does casually remark that she knows of a couple that only “had two requirements: that the donor be healthy, and college educated,” but this is tacked on at the end and is addressed as an uncommon occurrence. But the truth is, it’s more common than she makes it out to be.

Clearly, there are also risks associated with egg donation. Henneberger details the unfortunate side effects, as addressed in the documentary “Eggsploitation” by Jennifer Lahl. I have not seen this documentary, so I cannot address its accusations, but from my knowledge, these side effects are extremely rare.

I would like to comment on what the article does not address. Egg donors provide couples who have struggled for years to start a family with what they desire most: a child. These couples have spent thousands of dollars and countless years of their lives to create a family and egg donation may be their last or only option. I would rather not judge a couple on their so-called requirements when in reality all they want is an embryo that will gift them with a healthy boy or girl. I’m sure, if given the choice, many couples would take any child that fits the smallest number of requirements on their list.

Those are just my two cents, but I hope what I have written has given you a better perspective on the subject.


9 comments for “Response to “The Ultimate Easter Egg Hunt: ‘Ivy League Couple’ Seeks Donor With ‘Highest Scores’””

  • The recipients are seeking “ a ‘100% Korean woman’ with an excellent education, ‘outstanding’ test scores, ‘extremely healthy family history,’ plus an ‘altruistic nature,’ and a ‘slim build.’”

    What’s missing from all the news articles is information on why the recipients are seeking a woman with outstanding test scores. A very likely reason is that the recipient mother herself excelled academically and is seeking to match with a donor of similar abilities and interests, just like she is seeking to match with a donor of the same ethnic background. Would we judge her for refusing to accept a Caucasian donor? An African-American donor?

    It goes without saying that a donor should have a healthy family history and an altruistic nature. An anonymous donor with a family history of heritable diseases won’t pass the screening tests required by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. And you have to be an altruistic person to be willing to jab yourself repeatedly with needles for the sake of a complete stranger.

    As long as the donor is not being compensated more for her academic achievements, I don’t see the problem here.

  • “but from my knowledge, these side effects are extremely rare.” Let’s do the studies so we don’t have to just *think* the risks are ‘extremely rare’.
    And from your first link on related posts the author begins with, “Donating eggs does not appear to hurt a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant in the years after the procedure, a small study from Belgium found. Few other studies have looked at the effects of egg-harvesting procedures on the future reproductive health of women who donate eggs.”

    Does not appear? Again, let’s do the studies so we know if we are risking young women’s health and future fertility. My hunch is the fertility industry doesn’t want to do the studies because we will find out that the risks are real and not as rare as we are led to believe.

    • Mary Fusillo

      I am also concerned when I see your non-scientific answers to any question concerning fertility treatment. Your funding comes from a quasi-religious organization which is opposed to most fertility treatments, you seem to never interview happy young women who have been egg donors ( I could supply you 100’s from just the last 6 moths) nor seek to interview happy families that have resulted from egg donation. Your motivation is what? To stop a win-win situation that is very low risk? IVF has been around 35+ years….Your concern does appear to be less about the young women donors than about punishing the fertility challenged who do not adhere to your ideas of what treatment options should be allowed in your “world”.

      How exactly does your “research” differ significantly in size or scope to the aforementioned research on little risk from egg donation? Is it just that your research was done exactly “how”….under which academic protocol ?

      That couples seek to find donors that have the same characteristic that they themselves have is no different from two beautiful, successful, intelligent people finding each other and reproducing. Perhaps the next Harvard trained MD/PhD who is looking for a lifetime partner to have a family and grow old with should saunter on over to the local vo-tech for dating purposes… Isn’t that what you find offensive about this Korean couple?

      • Kathy

        Where to begin to respond to this ignorant, narcissistic comment? The writer appears to be hailing from Stepford Wife territory: where are mentions of all the happy egg donors? As a feminist I find Ms. Fusillo’s comments offensively misogynistic, ignoring the commodification of women inherent in egg procurement, not to mention the classism which views poor, low income or otherwise financially vulnerable women as fair game to use to fulfill their desire to have a child since their financial means “entitles” them to a child. Her class-based contempt for the have-nots, the “vo-tech” untouchables is disgusting. The fact that it’s economically privileged self-indulgent types who ignore the exploitation and commodification of women along with risks to their health, exposes them for the parasites that they are.

  • Ms. Fusillo,

    I’m happy to provide scientific answers:

    1.) “A Meta-Analysis and Case Series. Oocyte Donation: A Risk Factor for Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension” This study concludes that data reveal that oocyte donation confers a considerable risk factor that the recipient will develop Pulmonary Hypertention.

    2.) “Risk of borderline and invasive ovarian tumours after ovarian hyperstimulation for in vitro fertilization in a large Dutch cohort” This study concluded that ovarian stimulation for IVF may increase the risk of ovarian malignancies, especially borderline ovarian tumours and that more large cohort studies need to be done.

    3.) “Cancer Risk after Exposure to
    Treatments for Ovulation Induction”
    This study showed an increased risk of uterine cancer was found in women treated with ovulation-inducing drugs and an increased risk of malignant melanoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

    4.)”Is Maternal age an independent risk factor for fetal loss?”
    I include this study as many women who choose donor eggs are in a higher age-category. This study concluded that Fetal loss is high in women in their late 30s or older, irrespective of reproductive history.

    5.)”Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome: Definition, Incidence, and Classification. Seminars in Reproductive Medicine”
    This study demonstrates that younger women have an increased propensity to develop OHSS. It is assumed that the ovaries of a younger woman are more responsive to gonadotropins due to a higher density of gonadotropins receptors or a larger number of follicles able to respond. Also, thin women appear to have a higher risk of developing OHSS. Egg donors are always young and often thin, therefore we are targeting the most at risk population for developing OHSS.

    I could go on but hope this gives you enough science to consider.

  • Christina Jeffrey

    While abuse of donors is very important, and I do not want to take away from this discussion, may I add another abused party, one whose permission is not sought and cannot be obtained? The child who is produced from donated eggs is deprived of his or her natural mother and often of even knowing her identity. Requiring identification is not the remedy. The remedy is ending the practice.

    • Kathy

      I agree with you 100% Christina. The human rights of the children produced through third party reproduction are never considered. Thank you for speaking out. The fertility industry is a $6 billion a year business that fights tooth & nail against anyone who speaks out against its use of women for profit.

  • Christina,

    I agree that we must not lose site of the children created via gamete donation.

  • It’s really hard to relate to a couple that cannot conceive so I don’t want to judge anyone. I just wish infertile couples would look to adoption more option.

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