Choosing a Donor

Choosing a Donor

In the summer of 2008, a young woman called needing assistance in finding her ideal egg donor. The woman was in her mid-thirties, her husband not much older. The diagnosis was Premature Ovarian Failure. The woman had very specific and quite detailed criteria, she would settle for nothing less than a donor who offered all of the characteristics she deemed as “must-haves”; the list was long. Tried as my team and I did, we could not satisfy this client and so, she moved on. She moved on to two other agencies, she matched, three times, financially, emotionally and with respect to time investing in donors that for various reasons, did not work out. In the summer of 2009 she again reached out to me…she needed my help.

To say that it is rare that a client with very stringent and non-negotiable donor characteristics comes back to my office following (what I believe to be) an unnecessarily elongated donor search, or a failed cycle, or a go-round or two with non-qualified donors who never should have been accepted by an agency in the first-place (but they looked good on paper) would not offer quality agencies the kudos they deserve with respect to best matching practices.

I have chosen to write this morning about the client who spent a year of her time and energy searching for what she perceived to be perfect donor candidates only to then have the universe jolt her into a re-prioritization that led, eventually and in quite a miraculous way, to her and her husband becoming parents. When Kate (not her real name) reconnected with me, years after we had first met, she emphatically shared: I NEED A DONOR NOW! She told me she needed to cycle, immediately and that her ‘best donor’ was now defined as the donor with whom she was most likely to get pregnant. Her 37 year-old husband had been diagnosed with cancer, the prognosis was not good, she wanted to have his baby, she needed my help.

I wish I could tell you that matching proceeded smoothly, that following a recommendation of a donor with proven cycle success. Kate jumped to match, but she didn’t. It was hard for Kate to let go of her “wish-list”, she is, herself, an attractive, academically and professionally accomplished woman and felt that she could best embrace collaborative reproduction if she identified, in tangible ways, to her donor. I was both inspired and somewhat frustrated, I knew I could help her, I just had to be patient while Kate found the courage to detour from what she perceived to be the only path she could comfortably navigate with respect to donor egg…but I was worried, I knew that time was of the essence.

Thankfully, and this is the case with most of the successes we celebrate, Kate had the support of licensed mental health providers. Kate and her husband worked with therapists who specialized in fertility and, given their special circumstances, they also worked with clients dealing with cancer. I gently but firmly pushed, I waited for feedback, I remained uncertain about whether or not Kate would ever become a paid client , I just wasn’t sure about how this would all turn-out…and I kindly asked the donor I felt so strongly about, to be patient, as well.

Fast-forward to the summer of 2010…Kate has had her baby! She sent a birth announcement to my office, a warm thank-you and baby photos. She shared that her husband was given a promising but still experimental treatment and that he had become qualified for that treatment just one week before the birth of their child….”their child” so said Kate, without question.

Kate had eventually come to match with the donor I recommended; that donor is now retired. A mom herself, donor JT had completed 6 cycles, all but one of them successful. She was endorsed, following every cycle she had completed, by the physicians, nurses and mental health professionals with whom she had worked as most appropriate for a next match. She was a sweetheart to work with, she is a lovely woman and not only was I thrilled that Kate came around to see how much hope a cycle with JT could offer but I know, too, that JT was just as thrilled to have helped this lovely family come to be.

Originally prepared by Amy Demma, Esq for Prospective Families

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