7 Red Flags to Watch for When Selecting an Egg Donor

selecting an egg donor

There’s so much for prospective parents to think about when selecting an egg donor. One thing that is on the minds of many is whether their chosen egg donor will truly commit to the time-consuming process.

In order to donate eggs, a donor must commit to undergoing a series of screening tests followed by ovarian stimulation and egg harvesting. In practical terms, this means she must make numerous trips to the fertility clinic, she must provide all kinds of personal information about herself, she must undergo psychological testing and screening, she has to endure numerous transvaginal ultrasounds, she has to inject herself with hormones that have all kinds of unpleasant side effects, she has to repeatedly have blood drawn, and she has to undergo an operation under anesthesia. And she must do all of this on a very strict time frame set by the physician. She may also have restrictions placed upon her regarding sexual intercourse and alcohol consumption. All of this is a lot to ask of a young woman.

Unfortunately, sometimes potential donors commit to the process, but then are unable to follow through. They may simply disappear, they may fail to take their medications as directed, or they may fail to report for appointments. Sometimes their noncompliance becomes clear early on, and the intended parents can move on to another donor before they have made a significant financial investment in the non-compliant donor. Other times, the cycle may have already begun and the intended parents’ financial loss can be significant–$20,000 or even more. For example, a donor might take her trigger shot, which requires precise timing, at the wrong time, resulting in no viable eggs being obtained during the egg retrieval procedure.

The good news is that such extreme situations are uncommon, but nonetheless intended parents can protect themselves by being on the lookout for red flags when selecting an egg donor. Some potential warning signs of future non-compliance by an egg donor include:

Red Flag # 1: Skipping Appointments

The egg donor fails to appear for a screening appointment or test. Unless she has a really good excuse (like being knocked unconsciousness and taken to the ER), there is a very real risk that she will not comply with the strict requirements of the stimulation and retrieval process. In addition, any physician that permits her to continue is setting an expectation for her that appointments can be missed in the future too.

Red Flag # 2: Reluctance

The egg donor has donated before and was not planning on donating again, but agreed to do so upon the request of the clinic or matching agency. Such donors may not be as fully committed to the process this time as they were in the past.

Red Flag # 3: Evasiveness

The egg donor is evasive in answering questions posed to her by the clinic or matching agency. Is she trying to hide something that could potentially impact her eligibility to donate (such as a new tattoo)?

Red Flag # 4: Other Commitments

The cycle is scheduled at a time when the egg donor has other significant commitments in her life, such as her wedding or a cross-country move.

Red Flag # 5: Compensation

The egg donor is overly concerned about the financial compensation that she will receive. The primary motivation for a donor should not be financial, but rather altruistic.

Red Flag # 6: Criminal Record

The egg donor has a criminal history. This needs to be addressed on a case-by-case basis, but a criminal history can often be a sign of a pattern of irresponsibility, which is not compatible with the inflexible requirements of the ovarian stimulation process.

Red Flag # 7: Lack of Social Support

The egg donor’s husband/partner is not supportive of her decision to donate. His support is crucial toward the donor’s ability to comply with physician-ordered limitations on sexual intercourse, and is also important toward ensuring her compliance with the other rigorous steps in the process.

For more resources on choosing an egg donor, check out Parents Via Egg Donation’s FAQs on selecting an egg donor and Creating a Family’s tips on selecting an egg donor.

New Hampshire lawyer Catherine Tucker