Testimony by Sindy Wei, MD to the California Senate Health Committee re AB 926

My name is Sindy Wei. I am an M.D. with a Ph.D. in Biology, and I am a former egg donor. I have published in scientific journals including Nature and Science. I am a supporter of stem cell research.

When I heard this bill had been introduced into the CA legislature I assumed that egg donors finally would be given the protections of research subjects – the most basic of which is attention to the effects of the intervention on their health. I was disappointed to find that AB 926 only serves the interests of those who want the eggs, not the egg providers.

In 2001, I signed up for egg donation after researching medical literature. I injected hormones for many days. Early on I expressed concerns about the large numbers of egg follicles seen on my ultrasound, but doctors reassured me that this was great news. Then, before the retrieval, my blood estrogen levels rose much higher than anticipated. They decided to continue. The next morning, I underwent transvaginal needle retrieval of approximately 60 eggs.

I woke from the anesthesia feeling weak, nauseous, and short of breath. They told me I was ready to go home but I could not stand. After 8 hours of encouraging me to go home they FINALLY admitted me to the hospital.

Soon it became undeniable that I was going into shock from blood loss. I was taken to the operating room for emergency surgery and blood transfusion. Had I trusted their judgment one last time and gone home, I would have died.

After surgery, I had to be kept in the ICU. When the egg retrieval doctor came to see me she suggested that the bleeding was due to a genetic bleeding disorder (that is, my own fault). Testing revealed no such thing.

I was shocked by this dismissive attitude from a doctor of a top fertility treatment center, who has published articles on safety evaluation and recommendations for egg harvesting.

I fear that cases like mine are buried deep by fertility centers concerned about their image. An industry thriving on profits and reputation has little incentive to report adverse events, or protect the health and medical rights of donors.

Later, I developed unexplained infertility and had to be treated with even more hormones and surgeries. I still worry about the long-term risk of cancer. Please don’t expand the market in human eggs unless minimal protections for egg donors are ensured, especially the long term follow up necessary to make genuine informed consent possible.