Introduction to egg donation
I didn’t ever seek to be an egg donor. It’s a life changing thing that just fell into my lap…quite literally. It was the week following Mothering Sunday and as is usual I hadn’t got through the whole of the previous weekends newspaper. I was reading the Family section of the Guardian, as a step-parent to three and a now not-so-new mum to a two year-old, there are always thought provoking and informative articles, and this week was no exception.
Having been Mothering Sunday there was a lot of emphasis on what it means to be a mother, stories remembering mothers and also the issue of ‘what if you can’t become a mother?’ There was a story documenting the journey of a woman through the IVF process, a brief insight into her life and thoughts. The prominent emotion it brought out in me was sadness and empathy. Imagining my life in the same situation, I suppose for a lot of young women it is a foregone conclusion that they will eventually have children if they wish to, and it made me feel lucky to have what I do. Below the article was an advertisement placed on behalf of Guys and St Thomas’s Assisted Conception Unit asking for an egg donor to a specific couple, I don’t normally take much notice of advertisements but this really jumped out at me and gave me food for thought for the next few days.
Both the article and advertisement had really struck a chord with me. I felt as a healthy, 28 year old young woman who had proved her fertility I could help another person who can’t have children. I know quite a few couples going through or have been through IVF but had never heard of egg donation. I have been happily married for the last three and a half years. My husband has three children from his first marriage and together we have our two year old son. I’m not sure if we’ll have any more children – we certainly don’t have the space in the house at the moment! As a mother though, I feel that I can use my eggs, which will be leaving my body naturally every month anyway, to give someone the chance of having a child they are being denied. I have debated the ethical implications with my husband but always came back to the same point; in the same situation I would hope someone would do the same for me and he is very supportive. I wrote an email to the address stated in the article, introduced myself and tried to put into words reasons why I wanted to find out more about how the process works because I felt strongly enough to give it a go and help.
The response from the email came in the form of a phone call from Alison, the mediator acting between the couple and prospective donors. She was very understanding as I was trying to put into words why I wanted to help, whilst still trying to put across that I am normal! Alison gave me as much information about the couple’s situation as she could whilst upholding their anonymity, but more importantly for me, explained that there was no obligation for me to go through with it. She would give me all the information she could but, I could, at any point, decide it wasn’t for me without any repercussions.
A few days later came an information pack in the post explaining the process and in the couple of weeks that followed I instigated contact again with Alison. She then conducted a series of very informal information gathering conversations to get a better idea of my history from family illness to my likes and dislikes, allergies, hobbies and general demeanour. She decided my suitability as a candidate and I decided I definitely wanted to go ahead to the next stage, so Alison booked an appointment for me to see the consultant at Guys and meet her in person too.
The consultant and Alison were fantastic and certainly alleviated my anxieties. They were very welcoming and explained everything they were going to do in our meeting. They talked me through the different stages of the process and also completed some formalities to the process such as my weight, height they also took blood samples to send off for testing and did an internal examination to check whether my eggs looked healthy.
The journey I’m embarking on is quite a remarkable one and I’d like to share it with you. I’ll try and update you as often as I can whilst I go through the process of becoming an egg donor.