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Egg Donors Happy They Helped Out: Study

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Most women who serve as egg donors retain a positive take on their experience a year later, new research indicates.

Researchers polled 75 egg donors at the time of egg retrieval and one year later, and found that the women remained happy, proud and carefree about their experience.

"Up until now we've known that donors are by and large very satisfied by their experience when it takes place," said study lead author Andrea M. Braverman, director of complementary and alternative medicine at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey in Morristown. "And now we see that for the vast majority the positive experience persists."

Braverman and colleagues from the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, N.J., were scheduled to present their survey findings Wednesday in Denver at a meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

A year after donation, the women said they seldom worried about either the health or emotional well-being of the children they helped to spawn. They said they only think about the donation occasionally and rarely discuss it.

The donors also reported that financial compensation was not the number-one motive for facilitating another woman's pregnancy. Rather, a desire to help others achieve their dreams was pegged as the driving force, followed by money and feeling good.

Women who said the donation process made them feel worthwhile tended to be open to the notion of meeting their offspring when they reach adulthood. And most donors were receptive to the idea of meeting the egg recipients and participating in a donor registry.

"These findings are only one year out, and this is part of a five-year ongoing study," cautioned Braverman. "And life changes a lot in five years, so it'll be interesting to see if this lasts that far out. We can't say yet. But so far we're seeing that the feelings persisted during the beginning of the journey. A year out, we're not seeing a change in donors' experience. And that's kind of a good thing."

Linda Applegarth, director of psychological services at the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility at the New York Presbyterian Hospital--Weill Medical College of Cornell University, described the study as "very useful," but expressed little surprise with the findings.

"I actually routinely meet with donors a year post donation, particularly with donors who want to donate again," she said, noting that about 65 percent of her center's donors choose to repeat the process. "And I would say anecdotally that my experience matches the study findings," she added.

"Many do choose to donate again because they have had a very positive experience," Applegarth explained. "And in addition to whatever had motivated them to donate in the first place, after they've donated, the experience often takes on new meaning for them, in a positive way. So their motivation becomes more multi-faceted, because they really do know that they've made a difference."

Donors don't obsess about the experience, Applegarth said. "They move on with their lives. And this, I think, speaks well to the fact that there are any number of us who work with donors and try to be very sensitive to them and what they're doing, and want to make sure that they have a good experience with the donation," she said.

"We consider the donors as patients, and in that respect they're as important as anyone involved in the experience," Applegarth added.

Touching on the issue of egg donation from a different perspective, a second study to be presented at the conference found that women who serve as donors have a significantly different psychological profile than women who actually provide the service of carrying a baby to term.

Compared with egg donors, the so-called "gestational carriers," or surrogate mothers, were found to have a higher degree of "belief in human goodness" and "contentment with life," researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago found.

Carriers were also observed as having a stronger sense of "social responsibility."

More information

For more on egg donations, visit the N.Y. State Department of Health.

SOURCES: Andrea M. Braverman, Ph.D., director, complementary and alternative medicine, Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey, Morristown, N.J.; Linda Applegarth, Ed.D., director, psychological services, Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility, New York Presbyterian Hospital--Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York City; American Society for Reproductive Medicine meeting, Denver, Oct. 23-27, 2010

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