31st March 2021
Egg Donation through the eyes of an Egg Donor
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?
Our journey started about 10 years ago when my partner and I decided we want a family. As we were in a same-sex relationship we knew that we needed fertility treatment but we didn’t know where to go or how to start so we asked our GP about options but they could not help and to be honest, they didn’t offer any suggestions either, which was quite disappointing at the time as you would hope to get some advice from your GP. Nevertheless, my Mum spoke to a friend at work who recommended the Parenting Magazine and Herts & Essex Fertility Centre was in the magazine so we contacted the clinic straight away. At our first appointment, we heard about the Egg Sharing scheme where you get an IVF cycle at no cost if you donate half of your eggs so for us it was a no-brainer. Our first round of IVF did not work but luckily the second round worked. We transferred two embryos, which developed two boys, our non-identical twins, who are now nine years old.
How did you decide to become an egg donor?
After I had my own children and realized how easily I could help someone else to have a child, there was no stopping me. I have done at least ten rounds of egg donation and I believe ten babies have been delivered from that. I ended up in hospital twice with hyperstimulation and once I had to get a catheter for a few days but that was not enough to stop me from doing it again. The way I look at it is, what are two weeks of discomfort, being hormonal, and a bit of pain if you know you are going to help someone get a child. Once it’s done, it’s done. Whatever I went through, it was so worth it. When I found out that you can make ten families I wanted to hit that goal. As soon as I was ready to start another cycle, I called the clinic and said “I’m ready to go again”. The clinic thought I was crazy but it was nothing for me. I would do it again today if I could but apparently, I’m too old now. I’ve donated to single parents, couples, straight, gay, anyone and everyone.
How did your partner/family feel about it?
My partner and my family have always been fully supportive of me being an egg donor. They all think it’s an amazing thing to do. When I was going through the treatment you have to inject yourself in your tummy and I even got the twins to inject me because they knew their life cycle and know they came from a sperm donor so I wanted them to be a part of it. I did all the treatments and donations while I was doing physical jobs and raising the twins. It’s just something I did, nothing major. This week, my dad found a note in my mum’s car with the starting date of my treatment, July 2012 and it feels like such a long time ago, I can hardly believe it but I never did it for any other reason than to help people.
What are the criteria for becoming an egg donor?
You have to be fit and healthy, under the age of 35 and they check your family background for hereditary illnesses, they test your AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone) to check your egg reserve, your BMI (Body Mass Index) which should be under 34, blood tests, urine tests and so on. Nothing too scary.
What’s the difference between egg donation and egg sharing?
Egg donation is when you donate your eggs to someone else for compensation of £750. Egg sharing is when you get your IVF treatment cycle at no cost when you donate half of your eggs to the clinic. I’ve done both, egg sharing and egg donation.
Talk us through the process of being an egg donor?
When I felt ready to start another cycle, I called the clinic to book an appointment and started the process from when I was having my period. The process is pretty straightforward – I went for an initial scan, started the injections when my body was ready for stimulation, I had a few more scans, took the prescribed drugs, they checked the follicles, and then we waited for egg collection day. I have always been very open about it at work so everyone knew what I was doing so if egg collection fell on a working day for me, they would give me ‘special’ leave so I never had to use my annual leave for it.
How long is the process from beginning to end?
Approximately 2-3 weeks max depending on the egg development. I never took any extra time off work as I didn’t feel the need for it so I just carried on as before.
What was the most challenging part of the process, both physically and mentally?
Once it didn’t work so it got pulled and it absolutely broke me. This was the only time I struggled with it mentally. I sobbed as I felt like I let the recipient down and I felt guilty. Mentally, out of all the treatments, this was the only one I struggled with. Once they got 32 follicles and another time it didn’t work at all so you just don’t know how your body will react. Physically, towards the end of the process, I had a really sore armpit, of all places! It was probably swollen glands but that’s how I knew I was ready for egg collection. Strangely enough, the pain in my armpit was the worst. Even the catheter wasn’t that bad.
How do you think and feel about the idea that your potential children are out there and that you may/may not meet them one day?
I don’t think about it like that. I am quite matter of fact about it and see it as I have given someone the ingredients to have a child. I don’t think it’s my children out there. I have my children and if my eggs produce other children, they are the recipients’ children. If these children ever want to connect with me I would never turn them away but equally, I would not be bothered if they don’t come looking for me.
What would your message be to those who might consider egg donation or egg sharing?
I would recommend it to anyone. Do it. Don’t even think about it twice. Just Do It. If you have something to give someone that can help them, why wouldn’t you? If I could do it again I would do it in a heartbeat. And you get a nice cup of tea and biscuits at the end of it.
The clinic and the staff made it all the better as you know you are looked after every step of the way.