By Shahin Ghadir, M.D.
The very interesting article that was written by Jennifer Lahl, president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, about Kylee Gilman’s egg donation really made me start to think about the way some IVF clinics practice medicine. For many egg donors in our country, this is a wonderful opportunity to be able to help a needy family who is in desperate need of donor eggs. One of the biggest issues that I have in this case is the fact that the laws of Canada and the United States surrounding egg donation are not the same, and the fact that a physician would be flying an egg donor back and forth over international borders to make this process happen was personally appalling.
The consenting process for an egg donor is a painstaking, meticulous endeavor in which the physical and psychological risks, benefits, and every other aspect that could potentially occur during an egg donation cycle, including ovarian hyperstimulation, are discussed. Most egg donors go through the physical procedures required with little difficulty and quick recovery, although this, unfortunately, was not the case for Kylee.
Kylee’s process was not the norm for any egg donor. Simply put, the fact that she was told to get back on a plane immediately after her egg retrieval, when she had an exorbitant number of eggs removed, was unjustified.
Reproductive endocrinologists and fertility specialists are painstakingly aware that, if a whopping 45 eggs are retrieved, there is undeniably some level or aspect of ovarian hyperstimulation occurring.
First of all, as with all egg donors, Kylee should have been monitored and brought back into the monitoring clinic with eggs were retrieved at least 2 days after the procedure to make sure she was in good health, before putting her on a plane. Secondly, since she did have a complaint, rather than telling her to continue to maintain a high-protein diet and drink Gatorade, she should have been immediately brought into the clinic for evaluation, in keeping with the high standards of care and best practices typically adhered to by fertility professionals.
The general tone of this article is disappointing, and as a fertility specialist that is out there trying to help individuals, especially those needing to move on to egg donation, it is very important for us as a community to be aware of not only the needs of our patients but also of those that are going beyond their duties to donate their eggs. Yes, we are aware that egg donors receive compensation, but the process of injecting oneself, being monitored on a regular basis, going under anesthesia and having your eggs retrieved is not one that is easy. It is the job of the medical doctor in charge to protect the donor’s well-being just as much as the well-being of the intended parents.
Shahin Ghadir, M.D., F.A.C.O.G. is a reproductive endocrinologist at Southern California Reproductive Center and a member of Path2Parenthood’s board of directors.