Every once in a while you meet someone amazing who is completely dedicated to a heartfelt cause. For me recently, that person was Marna Gatlin, founder of the non-profit Parents Via Egg Donation (PVED). Her mission began with her own desire to start a family and her frustration with infertility and the lack of information out there about egg donation. Her non-profit has morphed into a hub of information, resources and support for thousands of women and men who are considering egg donation or have had a child via egg donation.
BC: Can you please tell me how PVED began and how it has changed over the years?
Marna: After many years of struggling with infertility, I discovered that the technology to have a child through egg donation was available. I was curious, excited, and above all, hopeful that this process might be the conduit to finally achieving my lifelong dream of becoming a parent.
As I began my quest to learn about egg donation, I was frustrated by the lack of information available about this particular assisted reproduction technology. What I wanted was education and support, but I was unable to find it. I did find a small e-mail listserve called Mothers Via Egg Donation, or MVED. That group became my lifeline through the process of conceiving my son, and over time I became its primary moderator.
From its beginnings in 2004 to present, MVED has thousands of members who share emotional support, as well as clinic, donor agency, medication, mental health, and other information about egg donation on a daily basis. Over time, MVED members were approached by traditional parents, single mothers, and single fathers, as well as gay and lesbian couples who wanted to know where they fit into the arena of people who choose egg donation. Many of these individuals didn’t feel they had the means to receive support, get educated, become empowered, or have a voice. Often they felt isolated.
Taking into account these desires—as well as the fact that MVED, while an important resource, was limited by being a list-serve — I decided to create an organization that would embrace every parent who had chosen egg donation to grow their family. My vision: a global resource for unbiased, timely, and accurate information about egg donation, eliminating the need to search far and wide for piecemeal information and answers.
PVED was born.
BC: Most people are crushed when they hear the words “Egg Donation” come out of their doctor’s mouth. What is one piece of advice you would want to share with that person?
Marna: First of all, take a deep breath. This is bound to be one of the biggest decisions you are going to make in your life, and it can feel very overwhelming.
Because this news can be so mind boggling, give yourself time to wrap your mind around egg donation, however you need to do that. Become an educated consumer. Let us be your support system, and help you through the steps of coming to terms with the loss of your genetics. And above all – just know that through this journey there are going to be peaks and valleys and there is support out there along the way.
BC: What would you like to say to a parent or parent-to-be via egg donation?
Marna: PVED was created and designed for you. Whether you’re just starting out on your journey to parenthood, are already pregnant, or a now a parent, you’ve come to the right place. We offer a secure message board for moms, dads, and parents-to-be to converse about every aspect of egg donation. FAQs help walk you through each step of the egg donation process on subjects like clinic selection, egg donor selection, legal part of egg donation, and a medical FAQ.
We have lots of articles in regards to:
• The egg donation process
• Selecting infertility clinics, egg donor agencies, and egg donors
• Embryo donation
• Legal, medical, financial, insurance related, and gestational surrogacy issues
• Religious concerns
• Disclosure to children conceived via egg donation
BC: What do you love most about what you do and the services you provide?
Marna: What I love most is knowing that in some small way I am somehow making a difference in the lives of people who so desperately want to become parents. I remember when I first started out on this particular journey – aside from feeling alone, and overwhelmed, I just knew I was the only one in the world out there feeling this way. Now I am able to reach out and say “You are not alone, it’s okay to feel this way. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. It’s just really okay.” A little validation I find goes a long way.
Marna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 503.987.1433.