Monday, March 7, 2011

Donor Day Orientation - Over...Easy!

My day started bright and early at 8am to get ready for my Donor Day orientation at Shady Grove's Rockville location. I set myself up with a GPS, and my brand new XM radio for a little entertainment during the hour and a half drive. My heart was pounding the whole way, and I'm glad I wore a sleeveless top because I would have been drenched in sweat by the time I arrived. I signed in and settled into the cozy waiting room while nurses and doctors buzzed by. After a few minutes, I was greeted by the lovely Margaret Connors, RN., and ushered into her office. Nurse Connors started off by asking me why I chose to apply to the donor program. I explained how I had considered the idea of donating eggs a few years ago, and finally decided to muster up the courage to take on this journey. Maybe I should have told her about the blog... She then told me a little bit about SG's history, and how they have become a leader in the world of IVF with one of the highest number of IVF cycles completed per year & one of the highest percentage of successful births. People from ALL over the world have come to SG because of their reputation, especially those from the UK and Canada. People living in countries who have nationalized health care have to wait about 4 years to utilize IVF with donor eggs! It is illegal for women to receive compensation for their eggs in the UK, so there is a huge shortage of donors compared to the US. It's easy to consider the fact that few altruistic women exist who would go through this lengthy, risky process with zero compensation. I have read a few accounts of British women who have traveled to the US in order to donate to take advantage of the financial perks. They make it sound so scandalous!
Next we made a paperwork exchange - my huge packet for her MMPI (AKA the personality test, woo hoo!). We reviewed my family/medical history, and I shared my career goals and status in school. She left me to start filling out the 567 question MMPI while I waited for the lab to finish up with the other two donor day girls. The test is pretty tedious, and consists of true false questions that seem pretty random. They range from asking if you love your parents, to if you hear voices, to questions of morality, to if you get embarrassed talking about sex (you can guess my answer to that one). Any hint of mental instability will disqualify donors from the program obviously. A social worker, who works independently of Shady Grove, evaluates the MMPI's and will (hopefully!) call me to schedule two future appointments. The first with me alone, to discuss the emotional implications of egg donation, and the second with my boyfriend & me together to make sure he is on-board with the process as well.

After I got through about 40 questions, the lab technician came to whisk me away. My favorite two lab experiences - giving blood (7 vials this time! ouch) and peeing in a cup - were overshadowed by the genetics test. Another thing that can disqualify a donor is testing positive for a marker for about 13 genetic diseases, meaning that they are a carrier for the undesirable gene. I thought initially that I would be simply swabbed on the cheek with a Q-tip, but I was very wrong. I had to spit into a tube, which under normal circumstances wouldn't seem like an unconquerable feat. However, when you aren't allowed to drink for 30 minutes and have to be Chapstick-less, it is pretty difficult to fill up a test tube. The lab tech suggested I think about lemons, which actually helped. After I finished this VERY classy test, I went into another room with the other 2 prospective donors to continue with the MMPI.

I said hi to the girls, and was thrilled when I was greeted with a water bottle by Nurse Connors. We listened to Nurse Connors describe how the donor process works, options for the IVF couples (which I've described in previous posts), and what hormones we'll be taking if we're chosen to donate. I'll go into detail on the hormone talk in the future after I do a little more research. We all learn basic reproductive education in school during health class, but I seriously learned a lot about the female anatomy in this short lecture. I remember thinking at one point how ANYONE gets pregnant with the level of complexity involved in conceiving a child. It's fascinating to me. After the chat, me and the ladies had a pizza party lunch and finally completed our MMPI's while Nurse Connors took a break.

Nurse Connors came back about 45 minutes later with a bag full of syringes and training vials...GULP. It became obvious that this was the moment I have been dreading - Injection Training! We started off by checking out 2 different sizes of needles we'll be working with, and the basics of handling a needle. We learned how to measure our dosage of medicine, how to draw up the liquid, where to inject, and how to combine medicines that require mixing. After we all got this down, we did a test. We had to get a certain dosage of water into our needles correctly without any help. What happened next almost made the girl next to me cry and run out the door. In order to pass our test, we had to give ourselves the injection of water in our stomachs. Truly, it was a piece of cake! I didn't even give myself an opportunity to think about it... I just stabbed it in a pushed the plunger. It was no worse than a pinch. As for the other contestant... it took the poor girl about 10 minutes of convincing and I still thought she was going to lose it. This experience definitely calmed my fear of giving myself an injection.

We ended the day by signing one final consent form. If all goes well, I'll get a call back within 3 weeks saying that my genetics/infection/MMPI tests were all great. The next step is scheduling my social work visits, which will be nothing compared to donor day, and I'll get my profile published on the database! Who knew there would be so much WAITING involved in this process?

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