We love to talk about sperm donation here – after all that’s where our darling girl came from. But something people don’t talk about is egg donation – women donating their eggs altruistically to give another family a chance at a baby. My wonderful friend Beccy has recently been through the process and I asked her to share it with the me for the blog.
As always with these things, honest discussion of bodily functions ahead. You have been warned!
Egg donation is something I had decided to do ages ago but never really looked into it properly, partially thinking I had all the time in the world and partially being lazy. Then one day I remember either reading or hearing that if you were over 35, you were too old to donate your eggs – I was 33 so if I didn’t get my thumb out of my arse and do something quick I would be too old – just the motivation I needed!
I guess the main reason for doing this blog is one, Laura asked me if I didn’t mind sharing my experience, and two, to help people who might be thinking of becoming a donor or people who have started the process understand it a little more. I obviously did some research into the donation process before starting, but there were still a few little surprises along the way, which I wasn’t expecting.
I have also come to realise from this that the public really aren’t educated on this topic. If one more person asks me if I never want children again after I mention I am donating my eggs, I might actually hit them and scream” THEY ONLY TAKE 3%!!!” That still leaves me with plenty of eggs if I decide I want children later in life, but apart from anything, why do you care if I want children or not? They really should teach this kind of stuff at school. It’s been a long time since I was at school, so things may have changed, but although we touched on the subject of fertility, we didn’t actually learn anything about donating. Maybe if people were educated on this topic a bit more, you might get more people willing to donate in the future?
Anyway, this first started a few years ago, when one day I thought: I am young and healthy (as far as I was aware) with no medical illnesses in my family apart from old age stuff. I didn’t particularly want children, I am much happier being the aunt or the friend of a friend who has children. I felt my eggs were going to waste, when there are so many people out there who all they want is to start a family and have children. Why not give my eggs to someone who will actually use them and help them to fulfil their dreams?
March this year, (yes, it has been going on for that long! A trip to Cuba and a bout of Salmonella obviously delayed things slightly!) I decided it was finally time to actually become a donor before it was too late. I discovered there was a fertility clinic at London Bridge (The Bridge Clinic) which was great as this is only two stops on the tube from where I work.
I met with a representative of the clinic in March, who explained the whole process to me from start to end and asked the reasons for wanting to donate. She even explained what could happen years after the donation (Children born from your eggs are now entitled to find out about you once they turn 18). After that meeting, my next appointment would be a scan to check that everything was working as it should be and to check my egg reserve levels.
So, I turned up ready for my scan to be told it’s an internal scan (gulp!, panic, cold sweat on the forehead) no one told me it was internal. There I was thinking it would be a scan similar to a pregnancy ultrasound – you know, external. Why did I panic? Because for some reason I had in my head that it would be like a smear test and let’s be honest, who actually enjoys them? But no, it was fine, nowhere near as bad as I built it up to be.
The results were given straight away and showed that my egg level was slightly low, but this was most probably due to the fact that I have been on the Pill since I was 19 and when I start the hormone treatment they should increase, which they did.
My next appointment would be for a blood test and urine sample to check for any underlying problems I might have or illnesses that haven’t been diagnosed, but this wouldn’t happen until after I came back from Cuba. After recovering from Salmonella (it was about mid-June) I still hadn’t heard anything from the clinic regarding this next step.
I only had one contact for the clinic which was the e-mail from the lady who I first met with (my rep). So, I e-mailed her about the next step and was told that I need to come in for a blood test and urine sample, which was booked in straight away.
I then waited ages. No one got in contact with me about the next step or even my results from the first set of tests. I was starting to get a little bit annoyed by this point, so I contacted my Rep who told me what the next stage is and booked in me for the appointment, which was another blood test and urine sample. Even to this day I’m not sure why I had this other blood test and urine sample done as they tested for the same things as the previous blood test except this time, rather than one vial of blood, they took NINE!!!(Good thing I’m not scared of needles!) I was told the results would take up to 4 weeks to come back and once they had, I would be all set to start the treatment – finally!!! – on the second day of my next period. (Treatment has to be started on either the 2nd or 3rd day of your period)
Around the same time as all the blood tests, I also had to go to a therapy session, to see if I was mentally ready to donate and if I was doing for the right reasons. If I’m perfectly honest, I felt like this was a waste of time for me. I imagine other people will benefit from this hugely and it’s good to know the support is out there, but for me it just wasn’t worth it. It was nice to know however, if things should change in the future and I need repeat therapy I am able to go back at any time in my life.
Five weeks passed and my period came and went and I still hadn’t heard anything about my blood results. Needless to say, I was getting more annoyed. I could have started the treatment that month but now it would be delayed until the next month. I was just about to e-mail my Rep again when the clinic called and explained that I have to go back for more blood as my original sample was missed off the list and by the time the lab realised the sample was too old to use (what the f…?)
So, in I go again and have more blood taken and do urine sample. I ask the nurse if these results will take four weeks this time and was told no, just four working days, so I should hear back from the clinic the following Monday.
Shockingly, Monday came and went and I still hadn’t heard anything. Annoyed isn’t the right word to use, but I was seriously annoyed with the clinic for their lack of communication and almost decided to pull out completely, but then I would feel really sad as I had come this far and to not see it though upset me. This was something I really wanted to do, and then I would get angry at the clinic again for making me feel like this. They kept saying there is a shortage of egg donors in the UK and here I am wanting to donate but keep being messed around – sort it out! I spent most of that Monday and Tuesday changing my mind from “I’m pulling out, this is ridiculous”, to “I really want to do this…” and back again.
I e-mailed my rep late Wednesday afternoon after deciding, “no this is definitely going to happen.” I explained that I still haven’t heard anything and my next period is due to start Monday the following week. If I miss this chance, I will have to pull out as I have work commitments and holiday planned from September onwards, as I thought the whole process would have been over by now.
Eventually, the rep got back to me and explained that it will definitely happen this month. My results were in and the doctor was just looking over them. She told me someone would be in contact with me later the same day or the next day. It got to Monday and I still hadn’t heard anything. By this point, I’d accepted the fact that this donation may not happen – I swear this whole process is a little bit like the seven stages of grief – but again I would get upset that it wasn’t happening. So, I e-mailed my rep again and within 10 mins the doctor called me herself and booked me in for the final scan, more blood and urine test (I swear I haven’t got any more pee left inside me) and to start the hormone treatment the next day. Woohoo!
Part Two Coming Tomorrow!