Monday, February 14, 2011

Sunny side up

After a long phone conversation with Shady Grove today, I feel like I am beginning to have one of my biggest concerns resolved. In my last posting, I talked briefly about worrying whether my eggs will be subject to stem cell research or not. The answer is a little less cut and dry than I would have liked to hear. I made the mistake of believing that when my eggs are retrieved and I sign over my rights to them, they become property of Shady Grove. What is actually true is that the eggs become property of the recipient couple, not the fertility clinic. Here is a hypothetical scenario to clarify the journey of my eggs when my work is done:

After my retrieval procedure, my lonely oocytes will be fertilized with either the recipient's husband's sperm or even a sperm donor. At this point, they become viable life forms or embryos. Say that five of my eggs are successfully fertilized. With the help of their fertility doctor, the couple will choose how many of the embryos to implant into her uterus. In this hypothetical scenario, lets assume they choose to implant three. What happens to the other two? This decision is completely up to the recipient couple, and Shady Grove will have no control over the destiny of those eggs. The couple can choose to do three things.

1. They can cryogenically freeze the eggs for later use. If the woman doesn't conceive, miscarries, or wants to have a second (or third!) child that will be a biological sibling of her first child, she can try again to get pregnant in the future.
2. They can opt to donate or "adopt" the fertilized embryos to another couple. It's pretty amazing that they have the opportunity pay-it-forward!
3. They can donate the embryos to the clinic for stem cell research, or discard them. This is the gray area for me...

From what I was told by Shady Grove today, option 3 is not very common but it is a possibility. The couple obviously wants to keep as many of the embryos they can, in case they are needed to help expand their family. I wasn't aware that they had the option to adopt the embryos out to another couple, and I am thrilled by the possibility! Who knew that one donation could potentially affect more than one family? Wow.

So, really... will my eggs my eggs be subject to research? Maybe, but not likely. I hope that people who have any reservations about my decision to donate with this possibility lingering can truly accept that what I am doing is right for me. The possibility of joy and life outweighs the possibility for a life to be short lived for me. I hope that any woman considering donating her eggs is completely aware of these possibilities, and makes the decision that is right for her as well.

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