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'Eggsploitation' Exaggerates Egg Donor Risks, Says Agency

CHICAGO, Nov. 16, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- A controversial new documentary called "Eggsploitation" condemns the fertility industry for taking advantage of young women who risk their health in donating their eggs. But industry leaders say the film exaggerates the exceptions.

Mary Ellen McLaughlin, a nurse and partner with Chicago-based Alternative Reproductive Resources (ARR), points out that egg retrieval is a medical procedure, and "any such procedure entails some risk."

"Donors need to be prepared for all possible complications," she says. "And it's in our best interests – both agencies like ours as well as the medical clinics – to prepare them. The reality is that in the 15 years I've been working with egg donors, less than 1 percent has experienced any complications."

The film follows three egg donors who experienced rare complications, such as a stroke, cancer (not proven to be related to egg retrieval) and ovarian hyper-stimulation. The latter is one of the most common complications, caused by fertility medications. Another is ovarian torsion, when the ovary is rotated due to physical activity after the procedure.

Kerry was a 22-year-old college student when she donated her eggs in 2008. After her donation, she felt tired and bloated. She reviewed a pamphlet the fertility center had given her listing signs of complications and immediately contacted the on-call nurse. She was, in fact, experiencing ovarian hyper-stimulation, was treated immediately and has had no problems.

Many egg donors are, like Kerry, young college students who need to be educated on the potential health risks associated with egg donation. Says McLaughlin: "Their health is our first priority, but they also need to pay attention to their bodies and become their own advocate."  

Kerry agrees, "I paid attention to what the doctors were saying and my body. I never felt uncomfortable calling with questions or concerns."  

Contrary to the impression left by "Eggsploitation" and the media, "These women are not commodities," says McLaughlin. "They are people who need to be treated like patients, which is how ethical agencies regard them."

ARR matches egg donors and gestational surrogates with intended parents. Founded in 1992, it was the first such agency in Chicago and one of the first in the nation. Further information is available, 773.327.7315.

Media contact: Robyn Velasquez, Hodge Media Strategies, 773.860.7058 or

SOURCE Alternative Reproductive Resources
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