Editor’s note: This post was submitted by We Are Egg Donors member Amelia Abby.
I live in the UK, where egg donation is completely altruistic — meaning an act done purely to help another person with no financial reward.
I was pleased when I first discovered this. In other countries, women can decide the amount of compensation they receive… I have read of women receiving amounts such as $10,000 or more! I don’t agree with this at all.
Maybe it is because I am coming from an incredibly unique background. Most egg donors in the UK are already mothers and have completed their families.
But not me. I donated because I am infertile.
My husband and I are unable to have children of our own. The main reason is that he has the condition Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and unfortunately is in the small percentage of CF men who do not produce any sperm. For other gynaecological reasons I am unable to carry a pregnancy, therefore there are no fertility treatments available to us.
For us, infertility took a long time to deal with. This is detailed in the first installment of my blog, My Egg Donation Journey. Many years down the line, I feel at peace with our situation. However, I could never forget that raw feeling of infertility.
This is why I decided to donate my eggs. For some women, being a mother is the only thing that will make their lives complete and to not be able to have that is absolutely heartbreaking for them.
If I could save a couple from having to face a life without children, then that is what I wanted to do.
If I reversed the situation and my husband and I were the ones hoping to receive donated eggs, would we be able to afford something like £10,000 for eggs on top of the large fees for IVF? No, absolutely not.
I think what makes donating in the UK unique is the compassion and gratitude that donors are shown by all involved. I have read that women in other countries receive very high doses of hormones and many end up getting OHSS — aka Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome — which can be a very serious condition landing some women in hospital for urgent medical care. This is usually an effect of clinics attempting to retrieve as many mature eggs as they can possibly get – in some cases, 50 or more have been collected!
I was pleasantly surprised by my clinic when my follicles were initially growing very slowly and they suggested increasing my dose of hormones… but before they did this, they did a blood test to check my hormone levels and to make sure I was not heading towards OHSS. I felt like I was in really safe hands. Eventually my follicles grew and I had 15 eggs retrieved… they just needed a little more time.
Subsequently, I discovered that 12 of these were successfully fertilised and my couple got pregnant! They have 11 little embryos left for future use.
I would much rather have a pain free cycle without complications with my health being a top priority than have such high doses of medication that I end up ill.
It has been reported that the live birth rate improves no further with more than 15 eggs and declines steadily across all age groups with retrieval of more than 20 eggs. Therefore a woman who has 50 eggs retrieved may actually have a lower chance of helping someone to conceive… which is surely why we choose to donate? Fifteen eggs is seen to be ‘the magic number’ in egg collections in the UK, creating a perfect combination of quality and quantity.
Never once during my cycle did I feel like I was being ‘farmed’ for eggs, which I know donors in other countries have felt. I was thanked endlessly by my egg donation agency, the clinic and even my recipient couple who wrote to me anonymously.
With every phone call, appointment and my retrieval, I was made to feel incredibly special.
Initially, I and my family and friends were concerned that I would find the process too emotional although I knew I wanted to try or I would always regret it. I actually think that I dealt with things pretty well… of course I had some down days but these were mainly due to anxiety when my follicles were growing slowing. I was so desperate for this to work for my couple because I knew how much they had been through and how many failed attempts they had endured.
While I have not found any other donor who is donating due to their own infertility, I have learned a lot about myself through donating. I discovered that my body is a lot stronger than I thought it was and I am a lot stronger emotionally than I ever thought I could be.
I am so pleased that I decided to follow my instinct when first thinking about donating eggs. Not only was it a wonderful, rewarding and incredible journey to embark on, it was successful!
Now my couple are pregnant and are probably still getting used to the idea that in 9 months, they will be parents… something I know they thought would never happen! I am absolutely thrilled that they finally have their happy ending.
I have had many people contact me via my blog, which I am so pleased about. And from an infertile woman to other egg donors… a heartfelt, huge thank you! You are making a choice that will change people’s lives.
Amelia Abby blogs at My Egg Donation Journey, where she is always open to connecting with other women interested in donating eggs. You can reach her via her blog.
Photo courtesy Evelina Zachariou via Flickr Creative Commons