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Why I decided to donate my eggs to a stranger.

To be honest, when I was first approached about donating eggs  I really had no idea exactly what was involved in the IVF process. I just knew it was expensive and involved giving yourself injections. Now I know that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I am 32, married and I have 3 healthy children. My family is complete. I don’t need my eggs any more; they are just going to go to waste.

I had my first donor cycle six years ago. It didn’t produce enough eggs to proceed with collection.

“I had my first donor cycle six years ago. It didn’t produce enough eggs to proceed with collection.”

Fast forward to early 2015. Television presenter Sonia Kruger  went public about her pregnancy, achieved with the help of an egg donated by a friend.

“I imagine it will be a lovely relationship,” Sonia told Women’s Day. “… there’s a special bond and that’s not something I’m afraid of.”

Her story made me decide to give it another go.

I discussed it with my husband, refreshed my memory about what IVF involved, and gave myself lots of time to think before I made the decision to find someone who needed eggs.

It didn’t take long. Many, many women need egg donors. I scanned the ads on Egg Donor Angels, and had to set some guidelines. I decided I wasn’t interested in helping women who already had children – there were so many women looking who didn’t have any children. Some of the photos looked like magazine shoots. I’m just an average girl from the country, so I avoided the ‘show off’ people. I wasn’t interested in career stories and success. If someone can afford IVF, its safe to assume they can afford a baby.

It was the photo that drew me to the recipients I eventually chose.  They were on holidays and looked so happy and relaxed. Her hubby hadn’t shaved for a few days, it was a real photo.

“They were on holidays and looked so happy and relaxed. Her hubby hadn’t shaved for a few days, it was a real photo.”

I messaged them. My excitement levels were off the scale. So were theirs.

It was a shock, then, when my recipient’s doctor advised against using me for a donor.  My AMH levels (revealed by a hormone test that determines how many eggs you have left) were incredibly low for my age. In fact, if I had waited until my late 30s or 40s I would have needed an egg donor too.

I remember being told the first time I tried to donate my eggs that I needed to finish having my family by the age of 35 or I would have trouble conceiving. I was only 27 and the shock was enormous: my first child was conceived without any problems, and my second arrived 22 months later just as easily. (We had our third after this attempt to donate.)

Now, I felt a deep sense of concern. Had I made a huge mistake? Was I going to let this wonderful couple down? They had already told me I was their last attempt: if using my eggs was unsuccessful they would accept the outcome and move on with life. They had already been through many cycles and much heartbreak.

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Disappointment barely describes how I felt about the possibility I would not be an egg donor after all. I had wasted everyone’s time.

But this couple was determined. Despite the advice of their doctor, they decided to go ahead with the cycle. I felt excited and scared – I had their future on my shoulders, or – more accurately – in my ovaries. If it didn’t work, they would never have a baby.

So we began.

I had to give myself at least 11 injections. I had lots of blood tests and genetic testing. I had 2 or 3 vaginal ultrasounds.
Worry was the hallmark of the entire cycle. Constant ‘what ifs’ would go through my mind. My recipient would say “we only need one good egg”. It gave me some comfort … surely I can do better than just one, I thought.
At the same time, my cycle was brought into sync with my recipients, so she’d be ready for embryo transfer as soon as they were ready, usually five days after egg retrieval.

The day of egg collection came fast. I was nervous – a great distraction ahead of the procedure – and honestly, I was more worried about how many than what was about to happen. As I waited in the ward, I could hear women who had already had eggs taken discussing what the outcome might be. I heard one heartbreaking conversation with a woman who only had one egg retrieved.

” I was nervous – a great distraction ahead of the procedure – and honestly, I was more worried about how many than what was about to happen.”

I was in and out in less than 20 minutes. Eight eggs!! Woo-hoo!! Eight!! While the doctor was still down the business end and I was under the influence of some lovely medication, I asked how many he thought I might produce, he said he thought I would be lucky to get 5. I was absolutely stoked.

As my eggs were being harvetsed, her husband was leaving a sperm sample at the clinic. The magic happened straight away, in the lab.

My recipient is now 35 weeks pregnant with a very healthy baby girl. She and her partner have three little frozen embryos if they wish to expand their family. I am a known donor; we will keep in touch and see each other a few times a year.

When my children are old enough to understand I will proudly tell them what I did and they will know there is a person who shares some of the same genetic makeup they have. I hope what I have done will inspire them to do kind things for others too.

I wish there was more awareness of infertility among women who want to have children so if they need to, they can freeze their own eggs if they want to. Trust me – the women sitting in IVF clinics are not just women in their 40s. I saw many women in their 20s and 30s in the clinics too.

“. Yes, I was sore for a good week. But for an egg donor, the disruption is brief for such an amazing outcome.”

My life was upended for a week or so. Yes, it was invasive and yes, there were lots of tests involved. Yes, I was sore for a good week. But for an egg donor, the disruption is brief for such an amazing outcome.

My recipient is due next month and she and her partner are going to make fabulous parents. They told me I have restored their faith in humanity.

Sometimes I use a cake analogy: the recipient wants to make a cake and have all the ingredients except the eggs. I have the eggs, the tiny, important final ingredient. I have helped change someone’s life. What a special gift.