Recent reports show that the number of women registering as egg donors has risen every year since 2006 with numbers increasing to 1,103 in 2013. Similarly, there has been an increase of more than 50% in the last five years of women having fertility treatment with donor eggs.
At the Bridge Centre many of our infertile patients require donated eggs to successfully become pregnant. While others opt for our egg-sharing programme where we offer IVF treatment at reduced rates for those happy to share their eggs. We also welcome altruistic donations from women like, Kathleen Bell, who want to give someone else the chance of having a baby of their own.
Kathleen donated her eggs through our partner, the London Egg Bank, which has seen hundreds of women come through its doors looking to donate their eggs since it opened in 2013. Here she tells her story.
"I had never really thought about egg donation before until a friend of mine told me she couldn't conceive naturally. It sat with me for days. What will she do? Will she have the chance of being a mother one day? Could I help?
After much research on egg donation I found that I could help and make a difference to someone's life, and I called the London Egg Bank to find out more. I was put through to Toyin who deals with potential donors. After exchanging a few questions over the phone we made an appointment to meet for a medical background and characteristic check. I came off the phone feeling great about it. I'd already made that step towards enriching someone's life with parenthood. It only got better from there.
At first I had this crazy image in my head of being assessed in a white room with stern observation. Would I say something that would make them judge me wrongly? It was far from that.
I spent a good hour introducing myself and my daughter to Toyin, who made me feel very comfortable with opening up about my life. I then had to complete a medical history questionnaire which included details about my own history and members of my family. A doctor then double-checked my medical history to make sure I was healthy and I was sent for some blood tests. I even overcame my fear of blood because I so badly wanted to help someone have a child.
It was all very relaxed and discreet. And when the results of my infectious and genetic screening tests came back all fine, it gave me peace of mind that I was ready to start the egg donation process. I was put on the pill and given folic acid until my next period started. I then attended the clinic for a scan to check my progress and I was shown how to give myself the stimulation injections.
I’d been worrying unnecessarily about the injections. My mum helped with the first one and I was surprised how tiny it was. In fact, I could barely feel it. I continued with the injections each evening until the second week when I was given a second daily dose to take. The needle for the second injection was slightly bigger but nothing to panic me now that I had overcome my fear of them.
I went back to the clinic about five times for scans over a two-week period. The scans showed that my eggs were developing nicely and I was given a date for egg retrieval. I was also told that I’d been matched with a recipient who would receive my eggs. I got a bit teary with joy – perhaps it was the stimulation hormones!
It was an amazing feeling, to know someone was possibly about to become a parent from the eggs I was donating - eggs that would otherwise have remained unfertilised.
The day of the egg retrieval came and I wasn't even slightly worried. The doctor and staff at the clinic had been so welcoming and reassuring that I felt relaxed - I trusted them as I knew I was in good hands. Although the egg collection only took 30 minutes, I was in the clinic for about two hours while the sedative wore off. They collected 13 healthy eggs in total, which was great. I was sent home in a taxi with a box of chocolates and didn't have any problems with side effects after the procedure.
My eggs were successful and I was overwhelmed with the result along with the care I received from the clinic. I’m even considering rejoining the egg donation programme at some point in the future.
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