Hello and Welcome, to the first Altrui/Apricity Newsletter!
We hope that you are all safe and well during what is proving to be extremely challenging times for everyone. Perhaps you’ve managed a staycation, joined a virtual party or have been able to let your hair down in other ways as we are sure that you may well have needed to over the past months!
In this newsletter, and others to follow every quarter, we hope to update, uplift and provide you with information about what is happening with egg donation in the UK and in the world of IVF and fertility, which we hope you will find interesting and helpful.
Changes at Altrui with Apricity
There are some changes in the world of Altrui, with Jane Holman and Abbie Garlick now joining Kate and Sarah, so a little info on who you will get to know – if you haven’t met or seen them in action already!
Jane is highly experienced having worked at a very senior level in fertility for many years. Altrui as a company is well known to her, with many people having been under her care in different clinics, and she has joined Altrui as the lead. She is the consummate professional, totally dedicated and absolutely reliable – just the person to look after you and the Altrui team going into the future.
Onto Abbie! Abbie has recently joined us, taking on the role of administrator, and supporting the rest of the Altrui team. From our end we take our hats off to her, joining a team in this virtual world with all our technology to master is certainly challenging, but we know she’s up for this and you will get to talk with her at some time or another.
Alison will be around and about, but also working with our sister company Apricity rather than directly with Altrui. The challenge to reach and recruit donors for all of you who need help is ever demanding and takes considerable time and energy. She will be working alongside the marketing team and Apricity to find new and exciting ways to encourage donors to come forward.
Apricity Satellite Pathway:
This is a very exciting new process for Altrui donors which enables Altrui to gain the help of many young women who would not otherwise feel able to donate eggs. Working with the experienced medical team at Apricity https://www.apricity.life we are able to reach potential egg donors throughout the UK and enable them to benefit from a process which provides a smooth and easy path from the beginning of screening right through to egg collection. Most of the appointments are virtual, nurses go to their homes to take blood and perform necessary tests, and scans are all local wherever possible.
The appeal for this route for donors is clear, when many people can’t, or don’t feel able to, travel, and at uncertain times like these, this is a massive bonus for us when asking people for help. As you know, we offer donors huge support making the process as easy for them as we can, and now get more people saying “yes, I can do that”, rather than, “sorry, it’s just too difficult” when it comes to egg donation in the UK.
Are there any positives in the pandemic for fertility?
We’re all truly feeling the fall out of Covid, and for us, probably like you, at times it seems that there is just no light at the end of the tunnel, but we all keep positive and do what we can to keep spirits up.
Life is beginning to pick up albeit very differently to ‘BC’ (before Covid), but at Altrui we are still able to find staggeringly kind women to help through donating some eggs. With the satellite pathway offered by Apricity, this makes life so much easier for everyone. For recipients thinking that going overseas was the only option for egg donation, we are now able to look after people here in the UK without the need, uncertainty and difficulties associated with going abroad. So yes, we can find donors still, yes treatment is happening, and yes, the UK option is still very much on!
We hope that some of you may have felt able to listen in on the webinar held on Tuesday 15th September. This is the third one we have held, with the expert Becky Kearns from Defining Mum https://definingmum.com/and all have been received with very very positive feedback. If you were not able to make it to the latest one, or would like to dip in again – even to the older ones, you can reach this by following this link
Interesting facts from HFEA statistics
The HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) have released a paper on statistics for IVF and donation for 2018. Most significantly, key findings showed that where donor eggs are used for older recipients, higher birth rates can be seen, although egg donation was not ‘widely used’. It was found that: “(25% compared to 10% with a patient’s own eggs), yet only 18% of patients over 40 used donor eggs in their treatment in 2018”. Understandably egg donation may not immediately be the preferred option, however it is apparent that it is the most effective option for many women over 40.
Frozen or Fresh – which is best:
Some of you might wonder what the difference is in offering asynchronous over synchronous treatment cycles, the general perception being that it is better to have a ‘fresh’ cycle.
Just to clarify, asynchronous is where a donor goes through treatment first, eggs are collected, fertilised and any blastocysts created are frozen. Following this, the recipient is then prepared for a frozen embryo transfer sometime in the future. Currently, blastocysts can be frozen for up to 10 years.
Synchronous cycles refer to where the donor and the recipient are prepared through medication together. The donor undergoes egg collection, fertilisation occurs and generally one embryo or blastocyst is transferred several days later. At this stage neither eggs nor embryos have been frozen, however, any remaining blastocysts that have been created are usually frozen on Day 5.
Studies from America have shown that there is a greater success with frozen embryo transfers statistically significant from fresh transfers. This has led to a growing belief that all embryos should be frozen. It is understood that blastocyst-stage embryos being a few days older than cleavage-stage embryos, tend to implant more readily.
As importantly, birthweights in babies born as a result of frozen-thawed transfers were on average around six ounces heavier at birth. Lower birthweights are associated with higher complications in childbirth, which is just not what you need after all this wanting and time. If you would like to read the full article you can find it on:
Notes from the front line:
Sometimes battling through the struggle of infertility, waiting for a donor, feeling alone just gets too much especially during this epic journey through Covid. If you’re a little battle weary, take heart, clinics are catching up with their workload, everyone is here to support you and there are amazing women out there who are willing to help. So, a few words from a couple of just incredible donors:
“I believe everyone should have the chance to have a family of their own, including those who have struggled with fertility in the past. As someone whose partner is no longer fertile due to testicular cancer, I know how devastating infertility can be. As someone who in the future may want kids, and would need to use a sperm donor to do so, I already know how incredibly thankful I’d be to the man who gave his sperm so that I could carry children- so I want to give another family the same opportunity”
“Being a mum is something I have always wanted and I have been incredibly lucky to fall easily with my two amazing little boys. If I am able to help a family in having their own, then it would mean the world to me as I could not even begin to imagine how hard it must be to want to be a mum/dad”.
If you would like to hear more from some of our donors about why they have donated eggs, then please have a look at our website!