I need an Egg Donor...
Where do you start? I had always been reading various fertility forums for years and seen discussions on egg donation. The choices to find an egg donor were - Australia, and overseas.
Today, there are now more clinics which have an Egg Donor Registry or an arrangement with overseas IVF clinics. In the past and still today alot of woman join forums. There is one forum - Egg Donation Australia, where you can join, post your story to introduce yourself and engage in the discussions to find an egg donor that would help you.
This forum has provided many successful egg donations and friendships along the way and are well recognised with many Fertility Specialists.
It has strict guidelines - Directly asking an egg donor member is not allowed as understandably, you can imagine the number of people that need an egg donor outweigh the number of egg donors available.
For us as we were looking for an Asian egg donor, we didn't find any at the time. You won't find many in Australia or even some parts of Asia because donating a body part or organ is culturally taboo.
There were times where I thought about why not any egg, Caucasian? it didn't really matter now, time was ticking. However both myself and my husband agreed it would be easier for the child and her sibling if she looked similar.
An additional challenge for us on finding an egg donor in the forum was I felt as I already had a biological child, there were many more people without even their first child with heartbreaking stories. They were much more deserving of a donor than I was.
I applaud those egg donors who donate numerous times to families they hardly know, they have massive hearts and deserve so much respect. IVF is not an easy process for most, so the fact that a woman is willing to put her life on hold, to go through the medication and attend to appointments for someone else to have their dream is admirable. Empathy is what comes to my mind. Huge amounts of empathy. Without our egg donor we would never have had our child.
For anyone considering going down the egg donor route, It can take time to get to know potential donors and for the donors to get to know the intended parent. There are legalities and counselling, however if you do have time both to engage and to wait, this can be a great place for potential parents. It may also give you the option to have a 'known' egg donor as opposed to an anonymous which many are from overseas. Fortunately we have a 'known' egg donor from overseas open to contact in the future. We chose this way as I felt it was important for our child if she ever wanted to trace her biological roots.
For information on egg donation in Australia, please contact your IVF clinic or join
For those seeking egg donation overseas. Some clinics in Australia that have association with overseas clinics. A good place to start is the Bub Hub website which has forums on egg donation.
Why so little egg donors in Australia?
My opinion is the small number of egg donors in Australia may be due to the fact that it is altruistic i.e given without payment. It is illegal to pay for an egg donor. You can only legally cover the costs of the cycle, hospital, medication, their time off work, child-care fees and any costs associated with the IVF. Some egg donors request future contact, like photos of the child; others carry on at the point of the transfer, happy to hear results with no further contact. It is what is agreed at the time with both parties. Some people may prefer a different type of communication. A note for anyone thinking of donating - all egg and sperm donation in Australia is now identifiable.
Asian Egg Donors
Most women choose an egg donor that has a slight resemblance to themselves. This helps with people not saying 'she doesn't look anything like you!', or in our case, we wanted our child to look like her sibling. In saying that, I have seen an Australian Caucasian woman with Asian babies. Makes an interesting conversation really!
I researched forums, reading other people's overseas success and the clinics they had gone to and what was involved. It sounded quite simple. I found agents for egg donation which had Asian egg donors and contacted a few. Some were helpful, but expensive. However the IVF cycles were cheaper in overseas clinics than in Australia. After everything, we automatically chose Malaysia due to my heritage, so here began my search.
The Short Version
With many overseas clinics, an egg donor, her background, education, physiological features and photo can be viewed privately via email. In our Malaysian Clinic that we had chosen, we had to see this information in person. I choose to deal direct with the clinic without going through an agency. It seemed simple enough so we caught the flight and made it a holiday.
The cycle is simply synced to the egg donor. Whilst the egg donor is doing IVF and injecting to grow her follicles like I use to do, I am home in Australia, taking estrogen medication to thicken my lining to an optimal level preparing for implantation.
You will need a Fertility Specialist here to help with the lining scan during the course of the schedule but it is the overseas clinic that co-ordinates the timing of your partner's sperm sample and your egg transfer day. When the donor is ready for having her eggs collected in hospital, we would fly over and my husbands sperm sample is ready in the clinic that day. I have my transfer and after a few days (each one varies on this) we fly back home and wait the TWW (Two week wait). Most people make a holiday of this or that's what they tell people. Until it becomes a repetitive holiday, all too frequent, that people might get suspicious.
Our donor was young, 23 years of age. The clinic and their staff were excellent in communication. It is not like Australia though, there is alot of waiting.
We did 6 cycles with this beautiful egg donor, flying back and forth.
It was negative all the way. We were devastated.
Egg Donor number 2
I'd read alot about people going to Thailand for egg donation and becoming successfully pregnant. I just thought it was easier to have my heritage in our second child. Now I couldn't care less if I had a blonde child.
We did this really quick. I researched clinics, contacted them, and chose a clinic from this great forum that was dedicated to Intended parents in Thailand - unfortunately this forum no longer exists. With most clinics here, I could choose a donor via email, plus there was an option to have a 'known' donor. This means the egg donor would be open to contact if our child ever needed or wanted to meet her. I absolutely wanted this and the donor I chose happily agreed.
When the day came to her having her egg pick up day, we went to the clinic for my husband to give his sperm sample. Big day for him! The clinic was modern and full of westerners and my little girl was walking around, when she was approached gently by this Thai girl. OMG - this was the girl in the photo. This was our egg donor! She hadn't met us and we had not met her. As she left us to see the clinic desk, the Clinic Coordinator approached us to see if we wanted to meet her. I was nervous, but yes! I had in my hands a bag of a multitude of gifts to leave with the Coordinator after she'd had her egg pick up procedure. Now I could personally hand it to her.
She didn't speak alot of English. Thank-you just wasn't enough. I hugged her and wanted to hold her for so long for what she was doing for us.
The longest Two Week Wait
As we left Thailand and landed in Australia, I felt something. I went to the ladies and I was bleeding. It was roughly five days after I had the transfer. Oh no it's my period. My heart sunk. I wanted to go home so I could cry alone.
I was so devastated, that I missed my scheduled progesterone support. I thought it didn't really matter, this was my period; it was not slight anymore.
Through all my cycles, I never tested early with a home pregnancy test. I'd read other women's experiences where it became an emotional roller coaster more when it said positive, and it really was the trigger injection causing a false positive. I waited for the blood test day.
However I had nothing to lose now, so I decided to use one to test early. There was a slight other line. Maybe it was an early miscarriage?
I decided to continue to progesterone medication, just in case.
Blood Test Day
To my shock, the results were POSITIVE!
I was pregnant at 45 years of age.
I discovered during these cycles that the chances off having a baby at 45 years and above with your own eggs is approximately 1-2 %. Yes there are woman that do have babies with their own egg, and some at 50 years, but it wasn't common and it wasn't me.
I was amazed it was the first go in Thailand with a new donor. I prayed, I meditated, "Please god, make this pregnancy last to full term"
I had some scary bleeds early in the pregnancy which specialists couldn't explain. Maybe I had lost a twin? Maybe because I missed a progesterone dose it caused one to miscarry? Maybe it was just something else. I will never know. I kick myself for making a wrong decision. Never stop your medication.
I am forever grateful for our egg donor. There are no words of thanks or enough gifts I could give her at the time to say thank-you. I wonder if she really knows that the gift she gave to us is priceless. I dearly hope her life is good. One day we will meet and introduce our child. Until that day, my love and respect for her deepens with every day I watch our little girl from egg donation grow.
Photos by Manuel @travelescapologist
Disclaimer: All information found on Fertile Horizons.com.au including this blog is the opinion of the author unless otherwise noted. It is no substitute for consulting a health care professional. Anything relating to medical and health conditions, products and treatments is for information purposes only. Please see your doctor or fertility specialist before starting any alternative treatments, supplements or programs or if you have any medical concerns.