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Radio Review: The Sunday Edition - Wanted, Egg Donor in Good Health

05 March 2012

By Dr Linda Wijlaars

Appeared in BioNews 647

The Sunday Edition: Wanted, Egg Donor in Good Health

CBC Radio 1, Sunday 19 February 2012

Presented by Alison Motluk

'The Sunday Edition: Wanted, Egg Donor in Good Health', CBC Radio 1, Sunday 19 February 2012


'"My stomach was so big, I could not bend over". Melanie was ballooning out. "I couldn't lift my arms". She looked like a pregnant woman, well past her due date, and getting bigger by the hour. Melanie had trouble breathing and keeping food down. She was on four types of painkillers and blood thinners to prevent a clot. She spent nine days in hospital. "It was awful"'.

Clearly, this excerpt from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's radio documentary on the potential complications of egg donation would make any woman think twice about donating eggs.

Although feeling a bit faint for a couple of minutes can hardly be compared to Melanie's ordeal I have some first-hand experience of a blood donation going slightly awry. For me, the most shocking part of this documentary, now available as a podcast, was the differences in the standard of care that we received.

Despite being back on my feet within minutes, I was given brochures, lectured by a nurse on the importance of hydration, and given extra biscuits to make sure I got home all right. But most importantly, the moment I indicated I wasn't feeling all that great, nurses rushed over to help me. Melanie, on the other hand, had to go through the fertility clinic that had retrieved her eggs, a gynaecology clinic and an emergency ward before someone could tell her what was going on with her body.

Melanie had developed ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. This is a complication of egg donation occurring in about one percent of women undergoing ovarian stimulation. In this podcast, journalist Alison Motluk followed several women who donated eggs and later regretted it, mainly due to this complication.

It makes for an interesting half hour of listening. As opposed to the film Eggsploitation (reviewed in BioNews 632), Motluk's feature strives for a balanced view on the consequences of egg donation. Although women like Melanie are the focus for the documentary, Motluk garners expert opinions from fertility doctors and bioethicists. Importantly, she includes some positive views.

Consequently, this feature eloquently explains where the conflicts in egg donation lie. The documentary touches on a wide range of subjects: from the need for fertility doctors to consider both the recipient's wishes and the donor's health to the question of whether donors should be financially compensated, via the lack of research on the effects of egg donation on the donor's health.

For someone like me, who was unaware of these issues, this podcast served as a great introduction to the topic. Motluk's steady hand weaving together the interviews with both donors and experts ensures a fascinating listen. Highly recommended.

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

14 September 2015 - by Daniel Malynn 
This documentary short film produced by the California-based Centre for Bioethics and Culture (CBC) is a sequel to their 2010 film 'Eggsploitation'. My heartfelt congratulations for an obvious but nonetheless awesome pun. But, sadly, that is where my congratulations end for this film...
05 May 2015 - by Daniel Malynn 
Annie Caulfield's play has some truly touching moments and clever insights into egg donation...
13 August 2012 - by Gisela Lockie 
I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that 'Having your baby through egg donation' could happily serve as an egg donation bible. It successfully brings together all the practical, physiological, psychological, social and ethical aspects of this particular form of family building....

07 November 2011 - by George Frodsham 
'Eggsploitation' highlights some worrying issues with the way in which egg-harvesting currently operates. Yet it leaves the viewer with the feeling that they haven't been shown the whole picture and a sneaking suspicion that a hidden agenda is at play...
24 October 2011 - by Professor Dame Marilyn Strathern 
'How far should society go in encouraging people to donate their bodily material?' is the question at the heart of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics' report on the ethics of donation for medicine and research, which was published earlier this month...
05 September 2011 - by Jenny Dunlop 
Anyone who has worked in any capacity in a fertility clinic will, I hope, have wondered what the meeting of an anonymous donor and the donor-conceived person would be like. Would it be like a birth parent meeting an adopted child; would it be like TV documentaries, with all the build up and the huge emotion?...
25 October 2010 - by Sarah Pritchard 
Should we pay women to become egg donors to tackle the 'mismatch' between supply and demand? This question was debated last week in an event organised by the Progress Educational Trust in partnership with the Royal Society of Medicine, supported by the National Gamete Donation Trust and the British Fertility Society (BFS)...

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