On the final day of our series “Child of Our Dreams” looking at the issue of fertility and donation, AASMA DAY talks to three Lancashire women at different stages of the egg donation journey.
WAITING FOR A DONOR
“IT can take over your life if you don’t take a step back.”
When Louise was just 14, she discovered she had Turner Syndrome, a genetic condition where women have underdeveloped ovaries resulting in a lack of monthly periods and infertility.
Louise, now 34, explains: “I was having a lot of kidney trouble as a younger and when doctors carried out blood tests, after realising I had not started periods, they began investigations.
“They told me I had Turner Syndrome caused by a missing chromosome and that this may mean fertility issues.
“However, when I was younger, I was a typical teenager not really thinking about having children.
“It was only as I got older and met my husband that it became an issue.”
Louise, a teaching assistant, does not produce eggs or have periods. When she met her husband, she told him quite early on that it was a real possibility that she might not be able to have children naturally.
Louise recalls: “It was quite a difficult conversation to have, but I felt it was important to be honest and upfront.
“Luckily, he was very supportive and continues to be so.”
Louise had further tests and investigations which confirmed she would not be able to have children naturally and needed IVF with an egg donor.
Louise admits: “I had a rough 18 months where it affected me quite badly emotionally. I was bottling up my emotions and it resulted in my skin becoming really dry and even the skin on my eyes started peeling.
“It was because I was getting myself so stressed out about everything.
“Things became even harder as my sister had two children in the meantime and close friends had children.
“This brought it home that that was not going to be me.”
Louise and her husband were referred to the Hewitt Centre at Liverpool Women’s Hospital and began advertising for an egg donor by putting up posters and adverts in newspapers.
However, despite having six initial responses to newspaper ads, no egg donor was forthcoming.
A friend initially offered to donate eggs but then had personal issues of her own to deal with and Louise says they became disheartened.
She says: “I spoke to a private clinic who had egg donors who said they were willing to take me on if we could get our NHS funding transferred to them.
“But we had to go through the Clinical Commissioning Group and it took until February this year to get an answer and it came back as a no. I realised we were going round in circles.”
Louise and her husband advertised for an egg donor again and now feel more positve as the Hewitt Centre have told them they will be in the next group of people to be matched with an egg donor.
Louise says: “Hopefully it will be imminent although we have not been given any timescales. The hardest part is the waiting and not knowing. It has been a long process and you feel like you are working so hard to get a donor.
“It can take over your life if you don’t take a step back and put a strain on you as a couple.”
THE EGG DONOR
“THERE are so many people who desperately want children but can’t physically have them.”
Stephanie is about to donate her eggs for the sixth time and she knows that her donations have resulted in at least two longed-for babies for people she doesn’t know, but is glad to have helped.
Stephanie, 28, who is in a same sex relationship, says her partner has also donated her eggs three times.
Stephanie explains: “Two of my friends donated their eggs so they could afford IVF as an egg share IVF treatment.
“I looked into it as I thought it would be great to help people in that way.
“There are women who don’t have eggs of their own for all sorts of reasons including if they have had cancer treatment which has damaged their ovaries.
“Last year, I decided I wanted children of my own so donated eggs through an egg share and had IVF treatment myself using a sperm donor, but it did not work.
“However, I had some eggs frozen from the egg share so am hoping to try again soon.
“I think it is such a shame that so many people can’t have children when they want them so much and I am happy to help them.”
With the law stating that any children born as a result of donor eggs or donor sperm being able to ask for details of their biological parent once they turn 18, Stephanie knows there is a possibility that any children born from her eggs may seek her out in the future and she is fine with this.
She says: “I am happy with the whole concept as I know my eggs are going to people who desperately want children when so many people take it for granted.
“I do not think of any children born from my eggs as my children as I have not cared for them or brought them up.
“I am happy to donate eggs again in the future but there is a limit of 10 families that can be created through donations.
“I have carried out my egg donations with CARE Fertility in Manchester and they have been great with me and I have not found the procedure invasive at all.
“The only pain is after the eggs have been collected and it is a bit like period pain for a few hours, but it’s worth it’.”
THE MUM OF AN EGG DONOR BABY
“THE woman who donated eggs to give us our baby is such an amazing person.”
As Kerry gazes down at her eight-month-old daughter Alice, she is filled with intense love and emotion.
It is the baby she feared she would never have after she discovered the only way she could have a baby was with an egg donor.
Kerry, 43, says: “It wasn’t that I put off having children but I only met my husband later in life.
“I went to see my GP when I was 37 or 38 after we had been trying for a baby for a year and they discovered I was peri-menopausal.
“It was a huge shock and after more tests and investigations, they told me the only way I could have a baby was with IVF using a donor egg.
“I was devastated and then me and my husband found out the authority we were under was not funding IVF cycles.”
When Kerry turned 40, she found out she was entitled to one cycle of IVF on the NHS and went to see her GP who referred her to Liverpool’s Hewitt Centre.
The couple were told there was a three year waiting list for egg donors and that they needed to advertise.
Kerry recalls: “When we were referred, I was almost 41 and the cut off for IVF on the NHS was 42 so we knew we only had a year to find a donor.
“We advertised by putting up posters on noticeboards in supermarkets and universities and doctor’s surgeries.
“I had siblings and relatives who were willing to donate but were too old.
“We did not hear anything until the August of the following year to say a donor had come forward.
“It was just in time as it was only a couple of months before my 42nd birthday.
“I had given up hope of a donor by this point and although I was thrilled, I was also very nervous as I knew this was my only shot.”
The couple went ahead with IVF using donor eggs and it was successful.
Kerry says she knows how lucky they are and she can never express how grateful she is to her donor.
She says: “Alice is wonderful and such a joy to us and we want to do everything to give her the best we can.
“I appreciate every moment with her and we have lots of cuddles.
“Being a parent is the best thing ever and I can never be thankful enough to the lady who donated her eggs and made it possible.
“She is just such a selfless and amazing person.”