Discovering donation through different perspectives
On the 6th of May, Apricity and Altrui brought together a special panel of women to hold an open, informative and vulnerable discussion on conception with the help of a donor. Egg donation is a highly successful and feasible treatment for many otherwise unable to conceive. However, it comes with a considerable emotional impact. Our speakers explored the nuances of the process through a discussion with questions asked by the audience in advance.
The talk was an opportunity to speak honestly about loss, joy and some of the most common emotions felt throughout egg donation. Following the event, we received a lot of positive feedback and requests for the event link. Therefore, we thought we’d make the evening available online for everyone to view. We think it’s particularly useful to anyone considering egg donation, primarily as recipients but also for potential donors.
“Thank you for shedding so much light on this topic.” – Attendee
“Excellent event, absolutely loved it. Hope to attend one of the events in the future.” – Attendee
“Just to say a MASSIVE thank you for tonight’s webinar. It was everything I hoped for and more. Feels like another important step towards becoming a part of “my tribe” rather than feeling panicked at the thought of being alone with it and singled out for the wrong reasons.” – Attendee
The panel consisted of:
- Becky Kearns, founder of Defining Mum, who generously shared her experience as an egg donation recipient
- Alison Bagshawe, founder of Altrui, who answered questions about the egg donation process
- Jana Rupnow LPC, counsellor, podcast creator and author of Three Makes Baby, who went deeper into some of the emotional challenges, and the process of sharing the egg donation journey with children
- Kate, a donor conceived-adult who shared her experience
- Leanne, an Altrui egg donor who shared her reasons for becoming an egg donor
Watch the event or follow our recap below.
- 1. Egg Donation: The Emotional Journey
- 2. Raising Donor-Conceived Children
- 3. The Egg Donation Process
- 4. Donation from the Donor’s Perspective
1. Egg Donation: The Emotional Journey
To start with, Becky shared her journey to conception. In particular, she shared the emotions she experienced while understanding that egg donation may be her most promising route to motherhood. Becky’s website, Defining Mum, is full of stories of conception
After a series of tests about six months into trying to conceive, Becky was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure. She and her husband tried several rounds of IVF, each time without success. Each cycle, Becky started to accept a little bit more that donation may be the path forward. The journey was a complex emotional process, as she dealt with anger at herself, and grief at not conceiving on her own.
Becky admitted that at the time she didn’t understand the full impact the decision had on her mental health, and she didn’t have the resources on hand to deal with valid feelings of grief over genetic loss. She emphasised the importance of the work companies such as Apricity and Altrui are doing, as they guide women and couples through the egg donation process – not just physically, but emotionally too.
Jana Rupnow, author of Three Makes Baby
Jana unpacked the issue of genetic loss from a therapist’s point of view, and how this can be a core loss for those who hadn’t considered having a child any other way. She emphasised the importance of recognising feelings of grief, connecting with them, identifying them and making space for them through counselling.
If you’re considering egg donation, what emotions can you expect? Jana said that those faced with the prospect of egg donation may feel anger at themselves, or regret at not starting the conception process earlier. She emphasised that regrets come with loss, and anger comes with grief. These feelings are normal, and anyone embarking on or going through this process must have compassion for themselves. There is no way to rush or force the emotional process.
Becky added that when going through fertility struggles, loss of control is one of the hardest things to deal with.
2. Raising Donor-Conceived Children
Communicating with donor-conceived children
Of course, being emotionally prepared to conceive is only part of the process. If all goes as planned, the result of egg donation is the opportunity to become parents. Previous donation recipients found that having a clear approach for communicating their child’s egg donation story was invaluable.
Jana spoke about the psychological approach to raising donor conceived children, and how to prepare emotionally for the process of telling them over time. She advised to start early, even during pregnancy, to get comfortable with telling the egg donation story out loud. With the child, parents can set a positive foundation from early on, using age appropriate language as they grow older.
Kate, a donor-conceived adult on the panel, was able to provide a personal experience of this. She spoke about how she was conceived with the help of a sperm donor. From around 4 years old, she recalls being told about donation in simple and age-appropriate ways. Kate always felt comfortable with her history, but pointed out that like any child, she wasn’t always keen to listen, finding toys or games more worthwhile. This is important for parents to remember, as it’s an ongoing process that unfolds at the child’s pace. Preparing for the more difficult questions that will arise when the child is ready to engage can be very helpful for parents. Kate also added that she never felt her life was any different due to being conceived.
Becky also added her experience of raising her donor-conceived children. She is a passionate champion for egg donation, and as such, has always been open with friends and family. Recently, she has begun to speak to her oldest child about it. Movingly, she said that the main takeaway her child shares with others is how her parents obviously wanted her very much.
Ultimately, every child is different and will respond with a range of emotions. The better prepared the parents are, the more they can navigate telling their story in their preferred way.
3. The Egg Donation Process
Alison Bagshawe, founder of Altrui, spoke about her vision for Altrui: to provide egg donation services and personal support within the UK. Alison highlighted the importance of exploring egg donation and having the time to process feelings about it. She equates it to dipping your toes in the water a little to first feel the temperature, stepping away, then coming back if and when it feels right. This enables recipients to learn at their own pace, and asking all questions before deciding whether egg donation is right for them.
Altrui believe in a unique, personal approach, where recipients have the space and time to ask all the questions they have. If they decide to proceed, Altrui are there for continued support and guidance every step of the way.
Alison Bagshawe spoke about her reasons for founding Altrui, and her vision to provide egg donation services and individual support within the UK. She wanted to go deeper into the donor-recipient relationship, and create a connection through a one to one donation process. With a 79% pregnancy rate, their success is really high.
Finding a donor
The process begins with an initial call, when potential patients ask any initial questions. Then, the patient registers and submits more detailed personal information. After registration, Altrui has an-depth conversation with the patient about their values and what’s important to them. This enables Altrui to present potential donors that will truly connect with them.
Egg donation is much more than a solution to a medical problem. There is so much emotion, and it too needs its own space in the process. Only the individual will know when it’s right to go forward with an egg donor. From Altrui’s side, it then takes time to find and screen a donor.
Alison also received questions on COVID-19 and whether it had impacted egg donation. For Altrui, all donors already in the process were happy to wait for a recipient, as they just wanted to help in their own way.
If you are interested in egg donation with Altrui, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01969667875. We also have a lot of information on our Recipient pages.
4. Donation from the Donor’s Perspective
Egg donation is a calling. Many women who donate their eggs wish to do so to help another person experience the joy of parenthood. This was the case for Leanne, an Altrui egg donor who shared her experience. As a mother, it was important to her to give the gift of motherhood to others.
One of the main questions attendees asked was around how egg donors feel about their genetic connection to their eggs. Leanne emphasised that she does not view the children conceived with her eggs as her own, but would be thrilled with future contact. More important to her is the knowledge that her eggs were part of a successful pregnancy and birth. Leanne also highlighted the connection to her recipient, particularly wanting to know that she is OK and happy.
Throughout the process, Leanne spoke highly of Altrui’s personal touch. Above all, she found that the constant communication with her made her feel part of a family unit. She received regular messages and calls throughout the process. And of course, Altrui let her know when her donated eggs had led to a successful birth.
Egg donation can be a highly rewarding and successful path to conception for parents. Speaking openly about the physical and emotional process is an important step in demystifying this valuable form of treatment.