After last week’s confusion, we booked the donor that we like!
This is our fourth donor. The first one was an in-house donor that never responded to the donor coordinator’s inquiry, so we couldn’t work with her. The second one disappeared after we booked her and met with her. The third one was an in-house donor who had frozen eggs that resulted in two so-so blastocysts and failed transfers.
I just hope and pray that this new donor will be our very last donor before we finally have a child we can call our own.
I really thought that this donor was booked by another couple already and wouldn’t be available to start legal paperwork until August. That was from reading Dr. E’s email. The donor agency lady clarified with this: “That was the cycle that is in front of yours. She will be finishing a cycle in May and then would be available at the end of May to start working with you. This is what I meant about legal being done at that time.”
I wrote her again trying to get a clarification: “Oh I was a bit confused about what Dr. E said. She told me that she just matched this donor with a patient of hers this weekend. When I asked her to clarify, she said that this donor is in cycle now with a patient of hers. Then the next cycle in May with a patient of hers too. So next cycle she would be available for is August. I would love to work with this donor if I get to start a cycle with her in May. But I will have to think about it some more if I have to wait until August.”
Donor agency lady: “Yes, she is finishing next week with her current cycle. Then she is cycling again and will be done in May. She can start working with you at that time and should retrieve around July most likely but the doctor will be the one to calendar it for us. It depends how quickly the donor gets her period again after that retrieval. “
From my understanding of her response, Dr. E was talking about two patients of hers, one is finishing up a cycle with her now. The other one will start her paperwork and finish her retrieval in May. So I will be in line after that to start paperwork late May. I just wanted to make sure that there is not another person in line to start paperwork in May which pushes me to start paperwork in August. So all of this is correct.
The next five days, I asked a ton of questions about the whole process and to make sure that we are next in line to cycle with this donor and not having two more people before our turn. This donor agency owner answered all of my questions promptly with a lot of patience. The donor was not employed at the time she filled out the profile. The agency owner helped me ask and responded promptly with the donor’s employment information.
What else did I do that help us make this decision? I was trying to explain to Bob all the cost and different donors and different clinics. He got so confused that he asked for a spreadsheet. So Wednesday after work, I put food in my Instant Pot, pressed some buttons, and let the pot do its job. Then I sat down and did a combination of different donors, different agencies, and different clinics (my current clinic and Dr. E). Why do I have to do that? Different agencies ask for different agency fees, escrow fees, travel fees for the donor, insurance for the donor, and other miscellaneous expenses. Different donors are from different states and areas so travel fees will vary. Plus they all ask for different compensations. I compared proven donors with first-time donors, local donors with non-local donors. I estimated the cost of travel. I compared donors who have done the psychological and genetic screenings, and genetic testing in the past year with the ones that haven’t. I compared the cost of each clinic with or without PGS testing. There are so many variables. I got it done in an hour.
When I presented the whole spreadsheet to Bob, he was so impressed with it. I made some estimates on certain things but I think the figures weren’t too far off from the real figures. After looking at all the figures, it appeared to the both of us that it would make the most sense to go with this local, proven donor and cycle at my current clinic. The only disadvantage is that I probably won’t be able to do a transfer until some time in the summer. If I go with a first-time donor I can probably cycle a little sooner. But with a first-time donor, the risk is that she may not pass her medical screening. Then we would have wasted money on flying her to the clinic and paying for the screening. Like I said, there are all these variables. So it seemed to make the most sense to wait for the local proven donor.
Plus, both Bob and I really like her. For the first time choosing a donor, I feel that I don’t have to compromise any of my criteria I have set for a donor. With the previous three donors, I made a couple of compromises with the height, education, or personality type with every single one of them. But this particular donor meets all of my requirements. I like how she looks. She is my height. She is a college graduate. And I like how she answered her personal questions. She just seems really down to earth. I feel that this is someone that I could be friends with in real life. And she has proven fertility so we don’t have to guess how she’d respond to medications. I know that every cycle is different, but her past cycles give us a good glimpse of what could happen.
After lots of talking and prayers, Bob and I felt that we had peace with moving forward. We signed the agency agreement to book this donor last week and emailed it to the agency person. We will pay the agency fee today. We have been officially matched with this local donor!
As far as which clinic to go with, I was thinking that since this donor will have worked with Dr. E three times by the time we cycle with her, it’d make sense to work with Dr. E. After all, she is familiar with this donor and knows how to stim her. After emailing back and forth with her finance person, I was a bit shocked and actually changed my mind. Without PGS testing, the difference between Dr. E and my current clinic is about $1500. With PGS testing, Dr. E costs $4000 more than my current clinic. How does one justify paying an extra $4000 for a cycle that may yield the same result? Just for some extra hand holding along the way? I am just not so sure.
Bob, who usually has a tight grip on money, surprised me once again. I thought he would be adamant about not spending the extra money cycling with Dr. E. But I was wrong. He lets me choose. If I really want to cycle with Dr. E, he’s okay with paying that extra money. I guess to him, we have already spent so much money. That extra few thousand is not going to hurt. But I think differently. I just have a really hard time justifying it. So we shall see who to work with.
Dr. E is great though. I asked her a bunch of questions and she got back to me very promptly. Here is her answer about cycling back to back and how that might affect a donor’s health, and the necessity to do PGS testing with a proven donor who performed really well:
“She (the donor) is getting breaks between cycles. That’s why you’d cycle with her in August, not back to back. I think as you know: IVF doesn’t make you run out of eggs and IVF doesn’t cause poor quality eggs. Therefore we can definitely use her if you would like. Her embryos were 100% normal with her first donation for me. Is it possible that could happen again? Totally. I’ll know very soon. Her second cycle with me will start very soon. As far as genetic testing, it’s a personal choice. I ask all my patients to consider genetic testing regardless of whether they are using egg donor or not just so you have all the info you need to make the best transfer decisions possible.”
The last two days I was looking at other donors on some agencies’ databases. I came across donors who ask for something higher than the ASRM’s suggested guideline of $5000 to $10000 for donor compensation. Some ask for $14000, 15000. I came across some that ask for $20000, 30000. One even asks for $35000. I don’t know how they justify asking for so much (Ivy league graduates, but so what???), but I am so glad that our donor adheres to the guideline. If everyone does what these other donors do, then nobody will be able to use donated eggs to conceive. For this, I feel fortunate that we found this local donor. We have Dr. E to thank.
Now we shall see if we will be cycling while my in-laws are in town (early June to end of July). *Gulp*