What medical information should agencies provide to donors about risks of donation?
While it is important to provide medical information and risks with the donor, how and when is the appropriate information provided? Most agencies do not have a doctor on staff, so should not give actual medical advice, but to what extent and when shall that information get to the donor.
There are various stages where information sharing can occur. Initial contact is a good place to share some information because it is important a donor has some idea of risks before agreeing to be a donor. This is not because they must proceed once they have submitted their application (there are obviously stages they can decide not to donate) but it is because we want to reduce the likelihood a donor will decline to donate after her profile has been shared with a possible recipient.
This information sharing is done by providing a link to the NY State Department of Health pdf file on “Becoming a Donor” and requesting the potential donor read fully prior to application submission. Once the donor applies, offer the donor an option to speak with someone at your agency who has been a previous donor, or put her in touch with a previous donor. Additionally, and if possible, arrange a conversation with a nurse or reproductive endocrinologist.
When a donor is contacted about a potential cycle, reminding her about the medical process and expectations is vital in being sure she is mentally prepared to move forward. A donor should also be reminded that there are general side effects, such as: bloating, feeling of fullness, headaches, possible mood swings, bruising around the injection site, etc. Encourage them to come up with a list of questions for the doctor for their first patient appointment, including bigger risk factors such as ovarian hyperstimulation, torsion or rare reactions to the medications. It is also suggested to remind the donor that she may back out of the contract prior to any medical procedures taking place should she feel she is not ready or willing to make this commitment.
For best practices, the below steps are recommended:
- First contact made with donor should include link to unbiased information on risks of egg donation
- Opportunity to discuss the “donor experience” should be provided
- Opportunity to speak with a nurse or doctor should be provided
- Donor should be encouraged to create a list of questions for first
patient appointment upon being chosen as an egg donor
- Contract should reflect an “out” (without consequence) if information provided to donor on first patient appointment is not something donor can feel comfortable with.
For agencies who do not have a prior donor on staff, they could request (and/or compensate) prior donors to complete the “donor experience” discussion with a first time donor.