Egg Donor Anonymity & Privacy & the Reality of the Google World

I spent the evening last night finally spending some time reviewing some fertility blogs and websites. I was actually surprised by some of the “promises” that were being made to egg donors in relation to their donation of their eggs to recipient parents. In fact, some claim that the information is shredded once a donation is over and/or their information is not released to other agencies or clinics. I am not really certain how that protects the privacy of the donors in all situations.

I think it is important that those in this industry make certain that we advise egg donors that we cannot ever completely guarantee privacy and anonymity. Yes, the clinics follow the HIPPA rules for the most part, and my office falls under attorney-client privilege rules; however, no one can absolutely be guarantee any privacy.

Why, you may ask? Because when an egg donor fills out her profile, she wants to make certain that some of her accomplishments, etc. are highlighted. By doing so, she makes herself searchable via Google or now Bing. Even when a donor places limited information on her profile, the advent of Facebook, Twitter, My Space, and Google make it very hard for any of us to stay hidden for long.

Well, with this in mind, what is my advice? Just be prudent with your information and understand that you can be found – BUT, and this is a big BUT, is unlikely to happen in the near future. Specifically, it is unlikely that the Intended Parents will try and locate you, although it is always a possibility.

Now, what about the resulting child? What if their parent shares the information with them as they get older to satisfy their curiosity or they find the profile in a safe? Disclosure is becoming more common, as we all know in this industry, and donors need to be aware that this can occur.

Should you as a donor be concerned? Well, I can tell you from personal experience that it is not such a bad thing. I was located, and I am fine with it, as the family did not expect anything from me, except that they were happy that I am there if there is a medical need. No relationship beyond that, and I have no legal responsibility to these children. But, as a donor, I do believe that I have a personal ethical responsibility to be available for information in the future. I am not afraid of the choices that I made, even though I was not advised of this when I donated, although this was in the advent of this entire industry.

In summary, the purpose of this article is not meant to scare away egg donors, as they are desperately needed by families who cannot have families without them; but as a donor, be aware, be prepared and go into this with your eyes wide open to the future. Educate yourself and know what you are agreeing to while knowing the wonderful gift that you are providing a family.

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