Op-ed: Unscrambling the Myths Behind Egg Donation

By Lara Sarkissian

Originally published on Advocate.com October 26 2012 4:05 AM ET

I wish could say that as a young woman, I took things for granted, led my life freely, fully expecting that when the time came to have a child, it would be on my terms and my time line. But this wouldn’t be true. I always had a hunch that getting pregnant will not come easily to me. Some may say I must have manifested it, whatever the reasons, without any real cause, as I knew in my heart that this would be a difficult but not an impossible journey and even shared it with my fiancé when the time was right. A couple of years into our marriage and following many unsuccessful attempts at becoming pregnant “naturally,” my husband and I decided to take things to the next level by seeking in-vitro fertilization treatments. After nine time-consuming, costly, and stressful IVF cycles (not to mention years of riding the emotional roller coaster) we were finally blessed with the birth of our son and daughter.

However, it was also during these numerous visits and appointments, I noticed something that felt out of place — the apparently healthy, intelligent, and well-educated young women who always seemed to be present in the waiting room. Surely they didn’t have reproductive concerns, or did they? With my curiosity piqued, I asked the nursing staff who these college-age women were and why so many young girls were having fertility issues. To my surprise, I was told these women were all egg donors. They were daughters, and mothers already in some cases, who wanted to share their eggs with loving and dedicated couples who were unable to have children of their own for whatever reason. At that moment I realized there was a story to be told,  one that would delve into the heartbreak, expectations, frustrations, and euphoria arising from the steps couples were willing to take so they too could be loving and caring parents.   

With that, my husband and I developed Egg Factor, a docuseries being produced to shed some much needed light on the world of infertility, egg donation, and surrogacy. A world that exists below the radar of most yet contains the hopes and dreams of many. The hopes of becoming a parent and dreams of forming a family are what most people feel automatically entitled to. Like myself, the majority of our participants have already been through rigorous IVF cycles, numerous failed pregnancies, and years of living in a constant state of emotional and physical agony. Yet, beyond all the pain, they seem to see the light once again. With the incredible generosity of egg donors and sometimes surrogates, these hopes and dreams can become a reality. Often, eggs are being donated to gay couples who have chosen, through surrogacy, to become parents and create families they rarely thought they could have.

Through documenting these incredible stories, we'd like to raise awareness and share valuable insight so the general public as well as the many going through infertility and/or surrogacy can understand and accept their options. We'd like to also debunk the myth behind the egg donors, reveal their motivation and sacrifice as they go through this journey. And we want same-sex and queer couples to participate in this journey with us.

As filmmakers and producers, we are aware of what sells, and we decided early on not to sell out. Our commitment is steadfast and genuine. Clearly, we are aware of the sensitivity of this topic and have a very caring and capable team producing this series. Our behind-the-scenes team consists of women who've been donors themselves, couples who've gone through multiple IVF cycles, couples who've used egg donors to have a child, and even women who've had accidental pregnancies the old-fashioned way, and of course, the spouses who've supported them through thick and thin and continue to do so along with the doctor who has made it all possible.

The donor agency we work with, Gifted Journeys, believes that love — not marital status, sexual orientation, ethnic background, or finances — is what truly makes a family. And all of the people involved, including Vic Sahakian, MD, of Pacific Fertility Center and Gifted Journeys CEO Wendie Wilson-Miller, as well as my husband and I, view Egg Factor as a passion project. We're confident it will be a fantastic journey for the participants to have this very unique part of their lives to be documented.

We're seeking those who share the dream of being parents — straight, gay, married, single — to participate in sharing the ups and downs, and ins and outs of the egg donation from start to finish.

Participating prospective parents will be offered:
* Substantially reduced medical costs (up to 75%)
* Waived agency fees
* Discounted pharmaceuticals
Certain procedures and donor fees will still need to be paid, so only people seriously intending to become parents in pursuit of a real opportunity should apply.

Please send a cover letter with your story, your specific problems and needs, pictures and/or video to [email protected].

Our docuseries will crack open the world of egg donation and shed light on this taboo subject by putting real human faces to incredible stories, while raising the ethical bar of genetic science and exploring physical biology and the relentless nature of the human spirit, which will soar beyond all challenges to create a family.

 

LARA SARKISSIAN is the producer for Egg Factor.