Choosing a Donor is like…

September 12, 2009

… choosing the smartest person in the class to take the LSAT for you. Oh, and she has to be female and look quite a lot like your student ID card. It’s like choosing an imposter (or an actor!) to show up at your family Thanksgiving dinner after you’ve been away a long, long time – out of the country or on the moon, say – and so any slight changes are chalked up to plastic surgery. It’s like the most demanding of career women saving the toughest interview not for her COO but for her nanny. The screening process is probably more intense than a search for a bone marrow match. Profiles are composed like life resumés. Imagine an extremely detailed family tree.

  • Eye color – check
  • Height – check
  • Weight – check
  • Race – check [and she can’t simply be Caucasian or Asian or African-American: her family had to come from somewhere, so you get long convoluted descriptions like Irish/German/Norwegian/British/French/Cree. Sounds like a fascinating family tree, and I wonder which features will my child inherit?]
  • Religion – check
  • Hair type: fine or coarse?
  • Finger length: short, medium or long?
  • Father’s hair color and type.
  • Father’s education and career
  • Maternal grandmother’s heart health, visual impairments, bone density… you get the picture.

Then there’s an audio interview and an essay answer section that you can download. I find the audio interview riveting. What can I glean from her tone of voice? Is there humour? Testiness? Boredom? Nervousness? Does she answer in complete sentences or two word phrases? Does she sound like who she says she is on her application?

I start to like number 678 but then I hear her interview. Oops, second thoughts. Okay, how about 1110? Hmm… GPA in college lower than in high school. Red flag? On to 1234; she looks a bit like me, which is a positive. God knows, at just over 5 feet and well under 100 pounds, I don’t want to choose a 5’9″ behemoth with big bone structure.  And what’s more important? Brains or beauty? The donors that have both have long wait lists. How long can I wait? Will The One pull out of the program before my turn comes up? Will she have had enough?

The most redundant question asked is, Why are you interested in being a donor? I can just hear them thinking, Um, for the money? Is that an okay answer? And apparently it is [hey, I have absolutely no qualms with it], as evidenced by the fact that there are multiple answers they choose from a list. In fact, I am struck by how many of the donors state in their interviews that they have known a friend with fertility problems and that is one of the reasons they became aware of the program. Like my husband said, they don’t do it for the 10K they get for one cycle. I imagine that they try to do it for 50K or 90K.

I think it’s very generous of someone to offer you their eggs but I feel donors deserve to get paid. After all, there is always, always a risk and you never know when you’re the one to fall into the small percentage that carries that risk. I feel this profoundly, as we have fallen into the small percentage of the population whose infertility cannot be explained.

After poring through dozens and dozens of life summaries, physical attributes, career status, health histories, free-form written answers and interviews, my  mind is completely jumbled. My eyes are dry and red. I’m so overwhelmed I feel like I should just take my mouse, close my eyes and click. That’ll be the one! Okay, who am I kidding? Reading all this is like taking a narcotic. I’m hooked and I know I’ll search until I’m happy that the microscopic egg that gets together with my husband’s sperm is going to carry as many genetic traits as my own DNA.*

*Please don’t remind me that we all have the same DNA; I realise this statement is a spurious argument; just hoping readers get my emotional point.