andrea-bryman

Andrea Bryman is one of the top psychologists in the U.S. specializing in screening donors and surrogates plus assisting people with fertility issues they face by helping  them adjust to their situation.  Global IVF has talked with other therapist’s throughout the world about their process and the position that Andrea shares is universal.  It is important to know that your egg donor is mentally stable and sound, and Andrea brings her years of expertise to her evaluations. Here is what she hopes to accomplish when she works to screen donors ….

By Andrea Bryman

Steps in egg donor screening

It has taken many years to create the niche I have in my profession, a mental health

therapist specializing in egg donation and surrogacy. I have learned that people are

not gray on the subject of third party reproduction. They have strong opinions.

Once all the opinions have been aired (this can take a while), one of the first things I

am asked is “What am I looking for when I talk with a potential egg donor?” I

thought I would start this initial blog by discussing four of the main areas that I

emphasize in my evaluation of an egg donor:

  • Family mental health history
  • Stability
  • Desire to be a donor
  • Ability to make an informed decision to be a donor

1. Donor’s Health History

In exploring a donor’s family mental health history it is important to gather

information regarding any potential psychiatric diagnoses. Some diagnoses are

linked to genetic predispositions that can be passed onto a child. If there is a

diagnosis, i.e., depression – it is important to determine whether it was triggered by

an event, which would be considered situational or whether it is an organic disorder.

I also discuss family history of alcohol or substance abuse. There is potential for a

genetic predisposition to alcoholism that both the recipients and donors should be

aware of. Finally, I explore any emotional, physical or sexual abuse the donor may

have experienced and if they have received any professional help. A donor who has

experienced some abuse without seeking help may find the donation process can

trigger unresolved issues related to the abuse. Above all else, my hope is for the

donor to have a positive experience.

2.    Donor Stability

One of the major concerns for many intended parents is whether a donor will be

stable enough to follow through with all that she needs to do throughout her cycle.

There is a vast amount of information to digest, forms to be filled out, appointments

to attend and medications to be administered. A donor will need a lot of support

throughout the process. There are many aspects in exploring a donor’s stability –

her living situation, her career, her upbringing and current relationship with her

parents and siblings, her social network, her personal relationships and any possible

legal issues she may have experienced. It is important that a donor be able to form

and sustain healthy relationships as well as manage conflict resolution. More

importantly, you want to be sure that she will to do what she is supposed to do!

3.    Donor’s Desire

What is the donor’s motivation to donate? Why would she want to inject herself

with medications and undergo medical evaluations and procedures? While initially

enticed by the monetary compensation, most donors after learning more about the

process have an altruistic yearning to want to help others while helping themselves.

In determining a donor’s desire to help others, it is significant to understand how

she learned about the process, why she wants to donate, if she has told others about

her desire to donate, what she plans to do with the money she receives from the

donation and how she feels about the future contact and disposition of her eggs and

the embryos they create.

4.    Donor’s Maturity

Lastly, after determining a donor’s mental well-being, her stability and her

motivation, it is very important to determine if the donor is cognitively mature

enough to make an informed decision to be a donor. I gather this information by

exploring the donor’s educational background and her self-perception. This

information determines if she knowledgeable enough to have the ability to educate

herself about the egg donation process and understand the potential medical and

psychological issues that may arise. Is she able to seek out information and ask

questions or does she passively take the information given to her? Often I encourage

donors to talk with other who have donated before to get peer guidance in addition

to professional guidance. The bottom line on informed consent is “Does the donor

really understand what she is agreeing to?”

To say “Choosing an egg donor is a difficult process” is an understatement. It is

important to realize that many donors have just as many questions about the

intended parents as the intended parents have of the donors. We interpret data

and evaluate information to ensure suitability. We educate others and ourselves. We

hope that all parties are being truthful and forthright.

enough to make an informed decision to be a donor. I gather this information by

exploring the donor’s educational background and her self-perception. This

information determines if she knowledgeable enough to have the ability to educate

herself about the egg donation process and understand the potential medical and

psychological issues that may arise. Is she able to seek out information and ask

questions or does she passively take the information given to her? Often I encourage

donors to talk with other who have donated before to get peer guidance in addition

to professional guidance. The bottom line on informed consent is “Does the donor

really understand what she is agreeing to?”

To say “Choosing an egg donor is a difficult process” is an understatement. It is

important to realize that many donors have just as many questions about the

intended parents as the intended parents have of the donors. We interpret data

and evaluate information to ensure suitability. We educate others and ourselves. We

hope that all parties are being truthful and forthright.

 

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