Over the last two decades, thousands of American women have donated eggs to help themselves or other women bear children. But little is known about what motivated these women to become egg donors and what, if any, physical and psychological effects resulted from their experience.
To answer these and other questions, University of Washington researchers have begun a national study and are looking for volunteers to participate in an on-line survey. To be eligible, women must have donated eggs prior to May of 2001.
“In this era of using technology to assist in reproduction, it is important to understand the consequences of this technology,” said Nancy Kenney, a UW associate professor of psychology and women’s studies who is directing the research.
“There have been many studies on the efficacy of reproduction using donated eggs and on the health of children born from this procedure, but women who donated eggs have been generally ignored. No one knows what has happened physically and emotionally to these women. It is important to understand their experience so that adjustments can be made to the assisted reproduction technology system if they are necessary,” she said.
The researchers also are interested in learning how women cope with knowing or not knowing the outcome of their donation and what relationship, if any, these women feel to any children that may have resulted from their donation.
Kenney and Michelle McGowan, a UW doctoral student in women’s studies who is working with Kenney, said that the little research that has looked at women’s motivations to donate eggs has been conducted in Great Britain, Canada and Israel. However, unlike in the United States, payment for egg donation in those countries is not permitted. Payment is legal in the United States and women typically can earn $3,000 for donating eggs. Remuneration can go as high as $100,000 for meeting specific criteria set by a recipient. Since monetary compensation for donating eggs is the standard in the U.S. the researchers said that it is time to analyze what role payment plays in women’s motivation to donate.
The on-line survey consists of 80 questions and can be completed in about 30 minutes. The research is being funded by the UW’s Research Royalty Fund.
The study is focusing on Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Diego San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C., which have the most prolific egg donation clinics in the country, but women who donated anywhere in the United States are invited to participate.
Women who would like to participate in the study or who have questions about it may obtain more information by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, contact Kenney at (206) 543-2563 or email@example.com; McGowan at firstname.lastname@example.org