I sat on my bed with my legs folded. My heartbeat had increased and I was scared to my bone marrow. I stared at the bottle of drugs the nurse had given me and the numerous syringe that lay on my bed. I took out some cotton wool and dipped it into the mentholated spirit which was in a transparent bottle. Then I used the damp cotton wool to wipe my lower abdomen just beneath my navel and injected 50ml of the drug into my body. The nurse had told me the drug needed fat for effective transportation so it’s either I choose to inject it in my thighs or beneath my navel. I chose my navel because it seemed the easiest. I felt pain as the syringe pierced my skin. The nurse had given me 24 syringes and I had to be taking the drugs daily. The nurse had said the drugs were fertility drugs that would help my ovaries stimulate several eggs at once. She called it hyperstimulation.
MY EGG DONATION STORY
My name is Obiageli and you might be wondering why I was taking those injectable drugs. What was the need to hyper stimulate my ovaries? Don’t worry, I would tell you my story. It’s a sad one but I would rather have you learn some lessons than shed emotive tears. I would prefer you share my story with other ladies so they can learn than become gloomy. I was in my second year in a reputable federal university in Nigeria when it all started. My parents were financially comfortable and they provided me with the basic needs of an undergraduate. My monthly allowance was twenty thousand naira and it was fairly okay. Sadly, I was the kind of lady that always wanted more. Would I say I loved money or money loved me? I was just preoccupied with making money. Yes, I wanted to always look good. I wanted to have the latest shoes, bags, clothes and phone. I was so drawn to money. That was my weakness! I guess my name was affecting me. Obiageli in Igbo language meant ‘I came to enjoy’.
As a lady that always wanted to look good and enjoy life, I got myself a rich boyfriend. Kelvin was a guy I met at an eatery one day. He wasn’t so handsome but he was rich! He was tall, had dreads, was always wearing a stud earring and even had a tattoo on his right arm. Kelvin was a student yet he had so much money. I had speculated he was into cyber crimes but I didn’t mind. Deep down, I knew Kelvin didn’t love me and he was just using me as a sex object. Kelvin would shower me with a lot of money and some gifts. He even got me the latest iPhone on my birthday and I felt on top of the world.
My relationship with Kelvin didn’t last long and our break-up was what changed the course of my life. I had visited Kelvin one Friday afternoon without his consent and I met the unexpected. Caught him copulating with Sophia who I called my best friend.
I FELT SO DEHUMANIZED AND ASHAMED
I couldn’t take that and so I challenged him only for me to get the beatings of my life. He called me all sorts of names and told me I was just after his money. He told me I meant nothing to him and was just his sex object. Then beat the hell out of me. He collected the phone which he bought for me and tore the dress I was wearing. He pushed me out of his house like I was nobody. I felt so dehumanized and ashamed. I had messed up a big time. When I got home, I saw that Sophia made a video of what happened and the video had gone viral. I was so ashamed of myself and that period was hell for me. I couldn’t attend class for a whole month nor could I go out. Everyone was talking about me.
Two months after the incident, I bounced back to my feet and I swore I was never going to date any guy because of money. I promised myself I was never going to need a guy in my life. I vowed I was going to be an independent lady and slay in my little way. Soon, I started looking for ways to make money. One day, I came across a sponsored advertisement on Facebook. I could remember the words that drew my attention that day. “As an egg donor, earn between #130,000-#160,000 and earn up to #800,000 plus every year”.
Immediately I saw that advertisement, the greed in me leapt for joy. I quickly dialled the number that was on the flyer to make more enquiries about the process and I was told to come to their fertility clinic the next day. I didn’t know much about egg donation so I quickly googled and read briefly about it. It just involves me donating some of my eggs to help those who can’t conceive. It’s like assisted reproductive technology (ART). When I donate my eggs, the sperm of the recipient’s partner would then be used to fertilize the egg in-vitro and the resulting embryo would be transferred back to the recipient’s uterus through the cervix. I read that it was a legal something and the fertility clinic would just compensate me for my help.
THE MEDICAL PROCEDURE OF EGG DONATION
The next day, I got to the fertility clinic as early as 8 am. The person I had spoken to the previous day had told me to call her as soon as I get to the gate of the clinic. When I called her, she immediately came out and took me through a back door. “Why are we passing through the back door” I had asked with curiosity. She smiled and then explained to me why she did that. The reason was to keep the egg donor anonymous. They don’t want a situation where the donor gets to meet the recipient. That’s why the recipient always goes through the front door and the donor through the back door. This is to protect the identity of both.
When we got to the section of the clinic meant for the egg donors, I saw a lot of young ladies. Some were sitting with a nurse discussing. Some were waiting to see the doctor. Those that were sitting talking with a nurse had probably come for consultation just like me. What amazed me was that I even saw about 5 girls wearing secondary school uniforms. The girls in the egg donor section should be around 18-25 years old. The whole place was bubbling. The short fat nurse had beckoned me to sit. I stopped taking a glance at the whole place and I sat down to face business. Just as I was about to sit, I saw a young girl crying and talking to a nurse. “So, I didn’t produce any eggs after all these processes and no compensation for all I had gone through? Even after taking those series of injections?” The pretty young girl of about 19 years old said crying. “Don’t cry here o. It’s not our fault. We appreciate your effort in trying but we don’t give compensation for futile efforts. Next time you can come back and try. Thanks for coming” The nurse had said giving the lady a bad look. I had felt sorry for her and I turned back to the short fat nurse who was already sitting.
WHAT IS THE EGG DONATION PROCESS LIKE?
“Is there any risk associated with this egg donation?” I had asked with curiosity. The short fat nurse laughed hysterically. “Risk? My dear, everything in this life is a risk. In fact, going out is a risk. It’s just God that is protecting us.”
I wasn’t satisfied with her answer and so I continued: “Ma, like what I mean is that would I have a serious side effect from all these processes?” The nurse gave her a hysterical laugh again. “My dear, don’t be scared. If there was great risk associated with this process, you won’t see hundreds of all these ladies flocking in here. You can just have small side effects from the drugs we would give you. The fertility drugs in particular. You can experience side effects like headaches, mood swings and nausea. Once you take paracetamol. You are okay. Also, the final stage of this donation is the stage where we would remove your egg. Some girls said it’s painful. But trust me you won’t feel the pain. Do you know why? They would give you a sedative while removing your egg. So, this procedure is so safe and #130,000 is a whole lot of money just to donate your eggs. You know…” She said laughing hysterically and touching me with her fingers.
The nurse told me to run some tests to see if I was fit to donate my eggs. Some of the tests were genotype test, blood group test, STD test and a vaginal scan. After the test, the nurse told me I was fit to donate the eggs and told me to come to the hospital for my drugs. She also told me that they had matched me with a recipient. The first set of drugs given to me was birth control pills. The drugs were overlapped with another drug in other to halt the way my ovary functions. The nurse said the purpose of those drugs was to synchronize my menstrual cycle with that of my recipient. This implies that I and the recipient’s cycle has to be alike for the whole process to work. After taking those drugs for some days. I was given injectable drugs. They were follicle-stimulating hormonal drugs. Naturally, women release one egg in a month during ovulation but the purpose of the drug was to induce the ovulation of multiple eggs so they can be retrieved and then fertilized in-vitro.
EGG DONATION RISKS AND REWARDS
A few hours after injecting the drugs, I could feel my head ache badly. I also felt like throwing up. I was expecting those side effects as the nurse had earlier informed me. The second day I took the drug, I only felt nausea and that was all. I continued the fertility drugs for the required duration while going to the clinic for some check-ups. When my eggs were certified mature, the nurse told me the next process was to retrieve the egg. That was what I was scared of the most.
The egg retrieval process involves a surgery in which a needle would be inserted into the ovary through the vaginal wall. The needles would be made to go into the ovarian follicle and the egg alongside the fluid that comes with it would be pulled out with gentle suction. Although, the nurse had told me all these would be done under sedation so I wouldn’t feel anything. But, I was still scared of the process. Thirty-six hours before the retrieval process, I was given the last ‘trigger shot’. This was to encourage my body to release the eggs.
I had my eggs retrieved while I was sedated. But when I woke up, I could feel some pain. The nurse had told me not to eat any heavy food after the surgery. As I was about to leave the hospital, I got a credit alert of #130,000. My joy knew no bound. “At least, the whole process was over and it was worth it.” The first thing I did with the money was to get myself a new iPhone. Two months after the process, I received a call from the same nurse that had attended me the other time. She told me my eggs were good and I should come back to donate another set of my eggs. I thought about it and I jumped at it. It was a good way to make another #130,000. “With that money, I could change my wardrobe”. I thought.
HOW MANY TIMES CAN YOU SELL YOUR EGGS?
When I got to my final year in school, I had donated my eggs 5 times and I had made close to #800,000. The fertility clinic increased the compensation fee to #160, 000 the second time I wanted to donate. I felt they were just helping young ladies succeed. I took the whole thing as my side hustle. Just like the ways girls prostituted to earn a living, so was I selling my eggs to earn a living. No one around me knew that was my side hustle, not even my parents. I donated my eggs 5 times within a space of two years. I had questioned the nurse if this was okay and she said yes. She even brought out her phone and googled if a lady can donate her eggs up to 5 times. The answer was yes but I didn’t probe further. I also asked her if it was possible for me to bear children in future and she said it was very possible.
Three months to my convocation, I decided to donate my eggs for the last time. I wanted to make my convocation the talk in town and have enough savings to start a business immediately after school. Had already saved #500,000 but I needed more. I had read on Google that a woman could donate her eggs as many as 6 times. Sadly, things didn’t go well this time around. While taking the fertility drugs, I noticed I started gaining a lot of weight. My stomach became swollen, I was vomiting frequently, my urination had decreased and I couldn’t breathe properly. I had experienced similar symptoms while donating my egg the fourth time and the nurse told me it was Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). She told me I would be fine and she just adjusted my fertility drugs. She also gave me one medication to reduce my symptoms. Now, those symptoms were back but they were severe. Immediately I went to the fertility clinic to complain and they told me that I was not their responsibility and I should go visit a hospital. “I wasn’t their responsibility?” I felt like I’ve just been exploited. Was I not donating good eggs to them that resulted in pregnancies? The nurse even opened up to me on one occasion that one of my recipients gave birth to triplets. Why did they keep calling me to come and donate more of my eggs? How on earth would they tell me I wasn’t their responsibility? Was I just an egg-producing machine? I felt so bad that day and left there in anger. At that point, I realized I had been used just like the way Kelvin used me.
I immediately went to a private hospital and I was placed on admission instantly. The doctor told me I was suffering from severe OHSS and fluid had accumulated in my abdomen and my lungs. He also said my ovaries were swollen. OHSS is a condition in which the ovaries overreact and produces hormones that make the blood vessel leaky. The water content of the blood leaks out and accumulates in several places in the body. I was on admission at the hospital for two weeks. I was treated and I became okay.
Five years after graduation, I decided to settle down. I met Mike, my soon-to-be husband. He was a nice and responsible guy. Today is supposed to be our wedding but here am I lying down on the hospital bed telling Mike and everyone sitting around me my egg donation story which was just a tale of greed and exploitation. Three months earlier, I was faced with severe constipation, blood in my stool, weight loss, weakness and abdominal cramps. I went to the hospital and I was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. I have done partial colectomy and chemotherapy but I am still scared of death. To be honest, I don’t think I can make it. I’ve heard thousands of cases of cancer leading to death. I decided to open up to everyone about my egg donation story because I strongly believe that the egg donation was a contributing factor in developing this cancer. I don’t have any family history of colon cancer so how was is it possible for a 27 years old lady to develop it all of a sudden? The fertility clinic told me there was zero long-term risk of being an egg donor but I feel it’s not true.
You may also like: COFFIN BIRTH
EGG DONATION ISN’T A BAD THING
Egg donation of course isn’t bad. I’m actually in support of it but luring young girls to donate their eggs with money is merely exploitation and unethical. To be truthful, some of these fertility clinics aren’t concerned about the health of their donors. Some greedy young girls like me would see them as charity organizations trying to help but the truth is that they are just buying our eggs at a reduced rate. Our government is silent on this trade and this saddens me more. In countries like Canada and France, there is a ban on monetary compensation for egg donation. This is to prevent exploitation of the act. It’s so sad knowing I’m going to die soon and what’s more painful is knowing that I have children here and there that I can’t even see or hug tightly. My eldest child should be about 7 years old now. I would miss you all but I think it’s time to go. Tell other young ladies about me and let them learn from my story. Farewell!
About the Author
Written By Isibor Precious, Delta State University.
Isibor Precious is a young writer who uses writing as a means of communicating to the world. Spurred by certain issues of life, a great message lies in every of her stories. Her stories are captivating, educational and eye-opening. Though a student of pharmacology, her choice of words are explicit and emotive.