Like a lot of young women in college, Wendie Wilson‘s eyes began lingering over lucrative egg donation advertisements with mere curiosity. A lump sum of money for some eggs she had no intention of using for some time was appealing. But it wasn’t until a short time later when she moved to Southern California at the age of 23 that she found herself finally calling the owner of an egg donation program — a woman with twins born via a donated egg. The mother shared what one donation ultimately meant to both she and her family, her gratitude affirming for Wendie the “fantastic” gift of egg donation.
She would become an egg donor five times in the next decade.
Contrary to the media narrative of cash-starved young women selling off their eggs to the highest bidder, Wendie confirms that her interest wasn’t primarily about the money. “I would say that my number one motivation was the desire to help another family, but the financial incentive was nice as well,” says the co-author of The Insiders Guide to Egg Donation: A Compassionate and Comprehensive Guide for All Parents-To-Be. “I knew I was a very long way from having my own children, so to be able to help others in the interim seemed like a fantastic thing to do.”
Wendie’s first donation was for a breast cancer survivor in her sixth year of remission. She was offered $5,000 for the entire procedure, which included three weeks of treatments that suppressed ovulation and around two weeks of medications that stimulated the growth of eggs. The retrieval process, which she describes as only “a little bit invasive,” involved a short-term Twilight Sleep anesthesia. Wendie says her doctor then used a long, thin needle to go through the side of the vaginal wall and into the ovaries.
“[Recovery] was always a little bit difficult for me,” Wendie says, assuring that the recovery often varies per donor. “I was usually sore, bloated, and cramping for about 10 days after retrieval, although the majority of donors usually feel back to normal two to three days later.”
Tender ovaries and bloating often increased as Wendie neared the retrieval date, a process that wasn’t too uncomfortable for her as she was later personally approached by two more families while managing another egg donation program. For her fourth cycle, Wendie donated to a family without charge but in exchange for half of her eggs to be frozen for herself. Her fifth donation, which she says was her “final” procedure, was performed because a previous family very much wanted a genetic sibling for the child they had already conceived with her eggs. By that point, she was 34 years old.