We had the opportunity to sit down with Joanna who shares her egg donation journeys and aspirations for the future. Thank you Joanna for taking the time to share your story, your openness and incredible inspiration to others considering becoming an egg donor or intended parents considering egg donation as an option in growing their family.
What led you to consider egg donation?
I was always interested in helping people by donating blood or registering to be a bone marrow donor, so donating eggs was another thing that I knew I could donate to make a large impact on a person's life. What really inspired me to sign up to be an egg donor was my previous boss sharing her story and the road to parenthood for her. Seeing just a glimpse of what people/couples go through to get the biggest blessing of their life, really inspired me to help make someone's dream of parenthood a reality.
What was the screening process like? Timeline to acceptance by your clinic?
My process could have taken a little longer than most because I was screened out from the first clinic I tried to donate to because I was a carrier for genetic disease, and that specific didn't have the capability to ensure my eggs wouldn't be matched with sperm that was also a carrier for the same disease. When I landed with my final clinic, who could provide an ideal match, the screening process was rather quick and easy. Initially, I had to fill out a form with my age, height, weight, life-style habits (i.e. drinking/smoking) and that was the pre-screening. Once approved from there, I had to complete a family medical history form, complete a psych consult, have genetic testing completed again. From start to finish, I think it took about 1 month to complete all the screening and testing necessary before being accepted.
How many cycles did you complete with the clinic?
Over a span of 2.5 years, I was able to complete 5 egg donation cycles.
Walk us through your treatment process timeline and/or experience.
In general, the process is somewhat quick, being that frequent appointments and stimulation injections only last for 3-4 weeks. I would say most of my donation cycles consisted of roughly 8-10 appointments and about 10-12 days of injections. I received the best care from my clinic and always felt supported. Even in the Operating Room, I felt like it was warm and welcoming, rather than cold and serious. My clinic was excellent in educating me throughout the entire process and explaining what is occurring to my body and what the medications will do. While all the injections can make you feel bruised and bloated, I didn't really notice it until the last day or two before the egg retrieval. As for my recovery post-egg retrieval, I had an easy and quick recovery. I felt sore the day of retrieval or after, but I was always capable of working the next day. It did take my body about 2 weeks to recover fully and allow me to feel comfortable and safe getting back into the habit of exercising. Overall, even after 5 donations, I would still do it all over again if I could!
What is the relationship like with the recipient individual or families?
Four out of the five individuals/families I donated to were anonymous. I know nothing about them and have no contact with them, although one of those families did send me a thank you card and a token of appreciation for my donation. One of the families I donated to, I was able to meet in person and have an open relationship with. We have shared emails with each other so if they ever want to get in contact to share updates or medical information, we have the opportunity. I have not heard from them since my donation back in December of 2019, but meeting them and knowing that they can reach out to me whenever they would like, is reassuring and fulfilling.
What would you like others to know about your egg donor journey who are considering becoming a donor or intended parents who may need to partner with an egg donor.
I would like potential donors to know that this is truly one of the most beautiful and impactful gifts you could give to a person in your life. It was truly the biggest honor to not take my "fertility" for granted and to allow others to benefit from something that would have otherwise gone to waste.
For intended parents, I hope that they know that they aren't "less than" and that everyone at some point in their lives needs help from others. Allowing another person to help partake in a small portion of growing your family will make a lasting impact on that donor and you. You can construct however you would like the donation to go and if you would like a relationship with the donor.
What are your aspirations for the future to you hold?
I aspire to either become a physician or physician assistant and hopefully work in the field of reproductive medicine or potentially in OB/GYN! The experience of being a donor has completely changed my life and my career aspirations.
Thank you, Joanna, for taking the time with Roaring Adventures and look forward to what your future will bring!