12/12/2023 - 4 min read
Why I wanted to donate my eggs
When Claire held her little boy in her arms for the first time, it was the completion of a long journey. Having experienced her own fertility issues, Claire knew that she wanted to donate her eggs, and help others on their path to parenthood.
In her own words, Claire's fallopian tubes were ‘knackered’ but thanks to the IVF process, which used her own eggs, Claire and her husband Jason, are now celebrating toddler Harrison-Jay’s fourth birthday.
At the end of last year, Claire decided to go back to the clinic where she had her own treatment, but this time it was to donate her eggs and help others who were experiencing fertility issues. She said:
‘We had IVF and I had been thinking about what I could do to help after having Harrison. I just wanted to give something back, I know there are women out there struggling.
I felt a bit of failure at first when we went for IVF because my body wasn't working properly.
Everyone has different reasons for having IVF. Some have had cancer and had their ovaries removed, or are gay and want to start a family.
It is awful wanting a child and not being able to have one. I know that and I had Harrison. It feels good to help someone else.’
Care Fertility teams have supported many people who need IVF with donor eggs over the last twenty-five years, and have a thorough selection process for all donors. Claire had to have an assessment and consultation – which includes talking to a counsellor about the ethical implications of donation. Egg donors are then carefully monitored by the fertility nurses, and have to administer daily injections for three to four weeks, to help produce more than one egg. In addition to the injections, there are regular ultrasounds and blood tests to check everything is working as it should.
Donors and recipients are carefully matched for height, weight, hair and eye colour and blood group. Once a recipient is found the donor is put on the contraceptive pill until both women's menstrual cycles are synchronised. Eggs are collected with ultrasound guidance as a needle is carefully passed into the ovary where the eggs are found.
The procedure only takes around 30 minutes and is carried out under sedation. Sperm is then introduced to the egg and the early embryo is incubated for five days before being transferred to the recipient mother.
After undergoing IVF, the process was not daunting to Claire but she did have to overcome some hurdles.
She explains: ‘I couldn't inject myself, I had to get my husband to do it for me!
I was more nervous going through IVF. As the donor you don't have to find out how it goes afterwards but if you are the lady becoming pregnant, there's lots to worry about”
I don't feel strange about donating, I’m not the parent. It is their child. I'm just glad if I have helped someone out.’
Following the pregnancy, donors can find out if the treatment has been successful for the recipient, the year of the baby’s birth and their gender. Donors are also invited to write a letter of goodwill which can be given to the child when they turn 18 - if they are aware they were born through donation.
After a change in UK law in 2005, the child can also find out the details of the donor when they turn 18.
What are the criteria for becoming an egg donor?
Donors must be under 35, as egg quality deteriorates after this time, and have no history of genetic conditions like haemophilia, Type 1 Diabetes, cystic fibrosis or conditions such as Down's syndrome in at least three generations of their family.
They must also be within a healthy BMI and not smoke or drink excessively.
Egg donors are compensated with £750 for their time.
Helen Mitchinson, the nurse co-ordinator at Care Fertility Bolton, says the intensive process can lead some to drop out but hopes others can see it through.
She added: ‘Donors go through a lot to help someone have a baby. I think the women who do it are very brave.’
Care Fertility Manchester's Medical Director Philip Lowe thanked all previous donors from across the region for their generosity.
He said: ‘Without them we simply couldn’t help many of our patients’ become parents. Donors and recipients can be reassured that we only recruit donors in the UK, giving them the protection of strict UK regulations and screening.
All donors have specialist counselling and are health checked. We would love more donors to come forward - they are a wonderful group of men and women and they quite literally have the ability to change another woman’s life.’
Care Fertility welcomes enquiries from sperm and egg donors who are willing to go through the process and help make a family. Click here for more information on egg donation, and how to apply.
Quotes are extracted from the Lancs Telegraph.