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Assessing the Medical Risks of Human Oocyte Donation for Stem Cell Research: Workshop Report
The psychological screening interview typically takes about 60 to 90 minutes, and it is done as a face-to-face discussion. “We put as our purpose for these screenings to give the donor an opportunity to talk about the very complex issues that go along with the decision to be a donor,” Dr. Klock said. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine provides guidelines for how to do the screening interviews. The screening is best done, she said, by a licensed mental health professional who has expertise working in assisted reproductive technologies. This expertise is important because a familiarity with the field provides a context that helps the interviewer know which questions to ask.
“When you begin a screening interview,” Dr. Klock said, “the first thing that becomes apparent from the donor is the question of motivation. You listen for this in the interview: Why do you want to be an egg donor? And without fail, two ideas come up. The first is, ‘I want to help somebody. I know somebody who’s gone through infertility. I know somebody who can’t have a child. I want to help somebody.’” And the second motivation is usually the compensation. Egg donors in Chicago typically get $7,500 for a single cycle, Dr. Klock said. The compensation is somewhat more in some places, somewhat less in others, but it is substantial enough that it can, when combined with the chance to help someone, make the donation process an appealing opportunity for some women.
Other motivations that potential donors mention include an interest in science, wanting to find out about one's own fertility, and making up for a previous reproductive loss.
In addition to the applicant’s motivations for donating, an interviewer will typically cover a number of other standard topics, Dr. Klock said. “We talk about psychosocial issues, the women’s reproductive history, her family history, her educational background. And then we also talk about the use and disposition of the oocytes.” The interview will also typically include a psychological test, most often the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, the MMPI-II. “It’s the most widely used psychological test in the United States. It’s also the test that’s used to screen for professionals in high-risk jobs: airline pilots, firefighters, police officers.”
During the interview, the screener is looking for various factors that would exclude the applicant from being allowed to donate eggs. “We’re looking for substance abuse or addiction issues, impaired cognitive functioning, or the inability to provide informed consent,” Dr. Klock said. In particular, if a woman doesn’t really understand the procedure that she’s