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  • Writer's pictureEvan Billups

Donor Story: Ave

Ave is a pre-med student living in Pennsylvania. She is half Caucasian and half Korean, having learned about her Korean heritage more recently. Ave talks about her experience donating for the first time and what the best part of it was for her.

Could you start by telling me a bit about yourself, your background, where you’re calling from? I'm Ave! Currently I'm in a bio-med program in Pennsylvania at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, and I'm also working here as a medical assistant - they have a family practice. I'm hoping to attend medical school here, so I'm basically doing the pre-medical requisites in order to get into the program because previously I just got my MBA in healthcare and medical administration. So now I want to use that to become a medical doctor and to run a non-profit health clinic for those who might not have insurance or might be undocumented. So that's kind of my goals.

I grew up on a dairy farm in north PA, so kind of like middle of nowhere with my family having cows and stuff! I guess I was always kind of interested in healthcare, so that was kind of my path for studies.

I grew up not knowing my dad's side of the family and he's Korean. So I grew up with my Caucasian side, and so I didn't know I was half Asian. My mom at first didn't tell me what ethnicity I was, so then I did a 23andMe a few years ago and it came back as Korean and so from there I went on to get some information like some cousins on that side and my dad who actually lives in Korea now. I haven't met him yet, but I hope to!

Oh wow! So you might one day meet him? Yeah!

That's so exciting and such a cool story! So can you tell me a little bit about how and why you became an egg donor? Where did you hear about it and what prompted you to go through with it? I've always wanted to be an egg donor, even before I found out I was half Asian. Being in the medical field and working at a family practice, we do see patients that have fertility issues or are trying to start a family, so that always interested me - like IVF and how that process works. I just wanted to get involved with it. And also I have a partner and we're in a same sex relationship, so we'll have to use a donor one day. I want to use my eggs for good use and there are families out there who want to get a family started or they might have fertility issues, so I just wanted to get involved and help donate my eggs since I'll eventually have to use a donor too if my partner and I decide to start a family.

Totally! So going into the donation process, did you talk to your family or friends about it? If so, what was their reaction? So the most important person I was talking to about it was my partner because I was just like, "Hey, just wanted to let you know, like if we want to sit down, how do we feel about this?" At first she was a little hesitant, because she had the idea that if there's a child that's conceived, once they turn 18 they could have access to 23andMe and Ancestry, and I've done those so they could find me on there. And I guess they could like reach out, which was why she was hesitant.

But then we were talking about it and she thought it was a really beautiful process, it's a really nice thing that I was doing. And so I talked to her about it and she was fine with it. My whole family was fine with it. I gave them the whole details. I told everyone in the family - I wanted to make sure I had full support. I mean no one was really hesitant, but I can see some people might be against it... I'm not sure, but I guess some people might be.

Yeah I definitely think it depends on the family. Some people are really supportive and some people not so much. So for you, did you have any specific worries or concerns did you have about becoming an egg donor or about any part of the process? I didn't. I did a lot of research online and watched your guys' TikTok, so that was helpful seeing how the injection process works and everything and just reading a lot about the egg donation process and how that works. So I was pretty comfortable. I didn't really have a lot of issues. But I'm also in the healthcare field, so I'm pretty comfortable with all that.

Yeah that makes sense! Alright, so how was the donation process like for you? How was the clinic that you went to? So my clinic was in Portland, Oregon and they were really good. I had a really good time. I honestly didn't have any complaints. I had like some slight bloating, but other than that it was a really easy process. I thought it was going to be a little more difficult, but I thought it went really smooth. There was one day I had to do an extra day of injections because the follicles weren't ready yet, but other than that everything actually went perfect and I really enjoyed working with Lindsey and Stacey at the clinic. They made it really easy and answered all my questions, day or night!

Ok good! Did you go right back into your normal activities and work or did you take any time off after the donation? Well I had to take off time during the donation because it was all in Portland and I'm in PA. But when I got back, I just went straight back into my school because I had a test I had to make up for school that week. So I just got back in my routine, but I waited to exercise and stuff for a couple weeks to make sure - I didn't want to tear anything, an ovary or something!

Was your donation anonymous, semi-anonymous, open? It was anonymous.

Are you thinking about possibly donating again in the future or are you kind of good for now? I would definitely donate again! Honestly, like I said it was a really nice process. Everyone I worked with was super nice. So I would definitely do it again!

And would you stick to anonymous donation, or would you also consider doing an open donation? I'm open to any of the options! It's up to whatever the family wants to decide. But I'm open to anything!

Maybe being in the medical field you're aware, but there are a lot of myths and things said about egg donation that are out there. Now that you have gone through the process and seen it up close yourself, are there any myths about it that have been dispelled for you? Or things that people might think about it that you found to not be true? Mmm I think the only things I kinda heard about, especially in the medical field, is just like a lot of the legal things that could come up and like dealing with being an egg donor. I think a lot of people are like "Oh, you're the biological mother but don't get legal rights" and I'm like that's not how that works. So I guess I already knew how it worked, but people I've been around can now understand the process because I've been through the process so I can explain to them and hopefully they can understand better. But there's a lot out there people don't understand, so it's good that you guys have a lot of social media and you can get information out there. That's good!

So overall, what was the best thing about being an egg donor for you? Well I was really happy that they got 36 eggs out of me. I remember when I woke up from the procedure, I was like "How many eggs did you get?!" to make sure they got enough eggs! Because I know like 50% of them might not actually be viable and then from that 50% some of them might not be mature enough. So I know they need a lot of eggs, so I was just really worried. I guess that's not a favorite part, but I was just really excited they got so many eggs!

I guess I'm just happy and hoping - I know the family hasn't done the transfer process or anything yet - but I'm really hoping they can start a family. I guess that's what I'm most excited about!

Totally! And in terms of compensation, is that something that you are saving towards something particular or just kind of saving for a rainy day? Yeah I have my compensation in a savings account because I'm just saving. I'm in school and also trying to go to medical school, which is a lot of money so I'm just saving it.

How was working with AsiaWest and our team? I think you were mainly with Lindsey? Yeah Lindsey was awesome! She also answered all my questions day and night for me. I know I started with Delcie - she was helping me get the application started and making sure I had all my information. She was really nice to work with. And then I worked with Lindsey and she helped me with any questions I had because it's hard - you guys are all in Portland and I'm in PA so I had to like make sure scripts were sent to my fertility clinic here. So she was really good about that and making sure the fertility clinic here got paid too. It was really good - everyone was on top of their stuff and it just made the process really easy for me. I felt like I didn't have to lift a finger!

Good good! Finally, if you were to give advice to someone who's thinking about becoming an egg donor what would your advice be? So I actually just recommended my friend to AsiaWest! So I was just telling her about the process and I was just saying make sure you're healthy and that you make sure you have a support system because she's married, so I want to make sure she discussed that with her husband. I guess just make sure you have everything in order. I don't know - I was just telling her how great the process was. It was just mainly like make sure you have a really good support system because you need to have someone there with you for the week, (which made it really easy). It was like really hard giving myself the injection the first time, even though I give injections! So I would just make sure you have a really good support system.


Note: this interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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