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The Parents Via Egg Donation Organization: January 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Old Saying: You Only Put Back As Many As You Can Carry....

Has taken on a whole new meaning....

The more I read about THIS the more concerned I become.

I don't know one anyone who is a fan of selective reduction. I know of NO one. And rightly so, it's a terribly difficult choice to make. It was something my husband and I talked about over and over when we were going through our journey to have our son.

Way back years ago when I first embarked upon IVF, the limit was three 3 day (8 cell) embryos to be transferred back, or two 5 days blasts. And today -- the common transfer is two blasts. We talked about the possibility of twins or triplets. That was daunting. But we went ahead and made a concious decision to put back three. In our case we got pregnant with a singleton.

We were REALLY lucky.

What is bothering me more is that I am beginning to think that patient made a concious choice to have eight (8) embryos transferred back into her uterus, AND AND AND there had to have been a physician who actually did the transfer.

What were they all thinking?

My thoughts are immeadiately to her children -- they didn't sign up for any of this.

The other part of all of this -- when things like this happen it places 3rd party reproduction into a bad light. We have enough controversy as it is -- and stuff like this makes things tougher all the way around.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Marna's mission: help her 'friends'

The Oregonian - Margie Boulé
A ll over the world, women who can't give birth using their own eggs are becoming pregnant with eggs donated by others.
Many turn for information and support to a nonprofit organization called Parents Via Egg Donation, founded by a woman named Marna Gatlin. Those who've been helped by the organization call themselves "friends of Marna."
Marna lives right here in Oregon.
There's not a lot Marna doesn't know about giving birth using donor eggs. Eight years ago, she was part of the process herself.
At that point, she'd been trying to get pregnant for more than a decade. Marna says she miscarried nine times. Her marriage couldn't stand the stress; she and her husband divorced.
In 1998, she married again. "I got pregnant on our honeymoon. Everything looked great until week 10. The baby died. I was devastated."
Marna's physician referred her to a reproductive endocrinologist -- a specialist in infertility. She saw Dr. John Hesla at the Portland Center for Reproductive Medicine, today called Oregon Reproductive Medicine.
"I'd been to many doctors who couldn't give me answers," Marna says, "and I was very jaded and cynical. I think I was probably cranky. I said, 'Look, I don't want to waste your time, and I don't want you wasting my time. If you cannot get me pregnant, just tell me, and I'll get a dog.' He laughed."
After testing, Marna was told her ovaries were not functioning properly. "He said getting pregnant with my eggs probably wouldn't be an option for me."
When Marna learned this in 2000, getting pregnant using another woman's egg was not a well-known option.
"I was frustrated. Information about this particular reproductive technology was hard to find," Marna says. "The Internet was just up and running. I did find a small e-mail listserv called Mothers Via Egg Donation. That group became my lifeline."
The process for selecting an egg donor is different today, but in 2000 Marna and her husband were given information about several anonymous donors. Marna chose a woman with a healthy family history whom she felt a connection with. "She played piano like I do; she loved coffee and chocolate like I do. It said she had a quirky personality, great sense of humor."
Marna and her husband chose donor number 153. "I will never forget that number as long as I live," she says.
If Marna should ever meet the donor, she says, she would kiss and hug her. "She's an amazing person for what she did."
Nine months after the first procedure, "on a dark and stormy night in December 2000, my son Nicholas was born," Marna says. "He was an amazing baby."
And he's a wonderful boy today, tall and blond and bright.
Throughout her pregnancy and since then, Marna became more and more involved in the listserv group. She became a moderator, then headed the group. By late 2007 she was getting 40 to 50 e-mails a day with questions.
"I decided to create an organization that embraced every person who chooses egg donation as the way to become a parent," she says. "A global organization with unbiased, accurate information . . . not affiliated with any clinic or donation agencies, egg brokers or law practices."
She founded the nonprofit Parents Via Egg Donation last January. She thinks it's the only one of its kind.
"The response has been phenomenal," she says. The Web site, www.pved.org, has had around 30,000 hits since October; its forum has had double that.
"The most common thing we hear is, 'I didn't know I couldn't have a baby in my 40s. Now they're telling me I have to use an egg donor.' "
The organization helps women grieving because their babies will not be biologically related to them. It also counsels parents about what to tell children about their beginnings.
"We told my son from the get-go about this beautiful angel lady who let us have him because Mommy's eggs were wrecked. He's always known his story," Marna says.
She believes children "have a right to know their source of origin. We feel disclosure is healthy and secrets are unhealthy."
The organization provides medical and technological information, offers counsel to those with religious concerns and weighs in on ethical issues.
"Right now, because of the economy, some egg donors are asking for more than the amount suggested by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine," which suggests a $10,000 fee for egg donation. "It's a big controversy."
Marna is not in this for the money. "We're hoping someday advertising on the site will cover a small salary."
Until then, "This is my job that I don't get paid for, but it's OK."
She's glad to help people all over the world become parents. People who call themselves "friends of Marna."
Margie Boule: 503-221-8450; marboule@aol.com

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

If You Think It's A Walk In The Park For Us -- Think Again

The recent frenzy in the media surrounding egg donation, the risks to egg donors, the long terms effects, etc, has me perplexed and frustrated. Egg donation has been around since the 80's. It's not some new fangled gizmo that guarantee's a baby for those of us that are infertile. While the technology is amazing the risks now are less as the technology has improved than it was when it began. I can only think the reason it's in the headlines is due to our economy, and perhaps the media is having a slow news day and needed something to sensationalize.

CNN, NBC, and I think ABC have all jumped on the media bandwagon to write their own spin on egg donation. Talking to the egg donors themselves I think was a great idea. Hearing straight from the horses mouth in regards to what their experiences are is not only educational but beneficial to all of us, so perhaps we can appreciate what they do go through to help us out. I want to say there here was some research conducted with various fertility clinics which is good, as well as interviews with specific egg donor agencies and a handful of attorneys who specialize in 3rd party reproduction. But do you know who they left out?

They left out the thousands of couples and single moms and dad's who have selected this avenue as a way of creating or growing their families -- you and me! Are we not one of the best resources out there who are living this, in the trenches, and going through the motions?

We know what it's like to be asked to pay over 10k for an egg donation cycle, and are offended each and every time we are made to listen to the justification of why 15, 20, or 25k is acceptable for eggs. We wade through paperwork, legal contracts, we negotiate with our donors, our clinics, our RE's, and we are often at the mercy of the nursing staff at our respective clinics as we deal with the lack of information (it's on a need to know basis I am told), while we go through a myriad of testing and anything else we are requested to do to become a parent. If I read one more article about how egg donors are exploited I am going to scream.

Here's a newsflash -- we recipient parents do not go out of our way to see how we many eggs we can pry out of the ovaries of unknowing egg donors. We also are not out to get what we can for rock bottom prices either. We recognize these girls basically put their lives on hold for 8-10 weeks, changing their daily routines, undergoing a regimented medication protocol, only to have their ovaries jabbed with a sharp hollow needle repeatedly to harvest eggs for hopeful mom's like me.

Don't think we recipient parents aren't jerked around or exploited. I am sorry, there are many egg donation agencies and brokers our there that are not ethical. That don't abide by ASRM guidelines, that don't think twice of ripping off recipient parents. They prey upon the very fact that we are desperate to become parents. So much so that many of us have written very large checks paying for over inflated costs, ridiculous charges, and even sometimes for donors that don't even exist, or they know aren't going to cycle.

Oh and another thing -- egg donors are not the only ones who are taking medication -- by the time we have gotten to the egg donation phase in our lives many of us have gone through one, two, sometimes three or four IVF cycles. Failed ones at that, countless IUI's, and in many cases in the event we have gotten pregnant we've miscarried -- many of us countless times.

Not only do we take birth control pills to sync us up with our egg donor, we often take lupron which is an injection, antibiotics, some of us are on blood thinners which is another injection, estrogen which is another injection, and then finally the big daddy of them all, progesterone in oil. Which is delivered I might add through a 22 gauge needle which is about 1.5 inches long.

And for those who are severely reproductively impaired like me, I had to continue those injections all the way through the 16th week of my pregnancy!

So - CNN, Anderson Cooper, NBC, ABC, Nancy Grace, come talk to us, we invite you begin a dialogue so we can tell you how it really is from our perspective.