Harvesting women's eggs requires the hyperstimulation of ovaries, making possible the retrieval of an unnaturally large number of eggs. Around the world women have suffered serious health consequences or death after having their ovaries stimulated using synthetic hormones. Below you can read about a few of them. While strict cause-and-effect may never be established in each of their cases, all such cases signal the urgency for mandating rigorous large-scale studies and instituting registries to track the health of women who have been hyperstimulated.
Stanford University graduate and marriage and family therapist intern, Calla Papademas. When she was a student at Stanford in 1999, twenty-two year old Calla suffered a stroke and brain damage after beginning ovarian hyperstimulation for egg donation. In November 2007 she participated in a seminar on the hazards of egg donation. Click here to see a video of her story. Also see, "What Are the Costs?"
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"A UK woman left brain-damaged after a stroke caused by a rare side effect of IVF treatment is set to receive 'very substantial' agreed (sic) damages. The 34-year-old patient, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, became pregnant but then developed ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Fertility doctor Paul Rainsbury, of the Bupa Roding Hospital in Ilford, Essex, agreed last week in the High Court to pay her an undisclosed amount of compensation." Read this July 2005 story online
Fashion magazine editor Liz Tilberis. Liz Tilberis died of ovarian cancer in 1999 at the age of 51. She publicly blamed her cancer on the fertility drugs with which she had been treated in the 1970s.
Comedian/actress Gilda Radner. Gilda Radner, who had earlier undergone hyperstimulation for infertility treatment, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1986 and died in 1989 at the age of 42.
Author, journalist Iris Chang. Iris Change committed suicide in 2004 at the age of 36. Chang had entered a deep depression and became bipolar after undergoing hyperstimulation for fertility treatment. See her biography, Finding Iris Chang
Nina Thanki. Thirty-seven year old Nina Thanki died in 2006 at Leicester Royal Infirmary while having eggs harvested from her ovaries.
Jacqueline Rushton. Thirty-two year old Jacquline died in Dublin, Ireland in 2003 after developing Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. Jacqueline's mother, Angela Hickey, relates her daughter's story in this short video: Trading on the Female Body
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Temilola Akinbolagbe. In 2005, Thirty-three year old Temilola from Plumstead, South London developed Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome after undergoing fertility treatment and suffered a massive heart attack. She was disconnected from life support five days after collapsing at a bus stop.
Faith Haugh. Faith Haugh is the biological mother of 17 children having been hyperstimulated repeatedly to make egg donations to infertile couples. Now (2008), at the the age of 37 she has been diagnosed with liver cancer. Could there be a connection?
Wendy Wasserstein, author and playwright, sought fertility treatment when she turned forty. Over the next eight years, she progressed from artificial insemination to in-vitro fertilization. She became pregnant at 48 and died of lymphoma at the age of 55.