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Known Egg Donation advice

(6 Posts)
notjustme Thu 22-Sep-11 22:51:43

My DP's sister is unable to conceive naturally due to a genetic condition which means she has no ovaries. She married her partner of 6 years last year and although they were resigned to no children, they have started to reconsider that decision and look at their options. There is a possibility of them getting up to 3 IVF cycles on the NHS. They would need an egg donor, and would prefer it to be a known donor, as they are very keen on the donor playing a part in the child's life. As it happens, I'm a 27 YO lesbian who has (currently) very little interest in having my own biological children, and young enough for that not really to be something I have to decide on now. I have DD 14 from DP's previous relationship who I have raised since she was 5 and I see her as my own.

It's very much in early planning stages and I am very well aware that at any point in the process, during the screening all manner of things could be raised that could make me, or them, realise that it's not for them/me. I have been thinking a lot about the concept of having a child in the world that's 'me' but not mine, and whilst I am sure if I was broody or wanted my own children badly, it would be a different matter, but at the present it really doesn't bother me. It's worth saying that I wouldn't be saying the same for an unknown donation - it's only because it's them, i'm not flippant about it.

I'm determined not to do too much 'google bashing' about the subject as I know what I'm like - i'll find some horror story page about how someone died etc. I DO know that this is a reality - that there are horrible side effects and health issues that can be caused by the donation process. But I really want to hear about these from the medical profession rather than some scary anti-donation blog. Or at the very least from someone who has actually gone through the process.

I'm not sure really what I'm after by this post - there's not many neutral people I can talk to about it in my life, they are either DPs family or my family, and biased.

Are there any members who are willing to share their experiences? Any particular things that could stop me being a donor? I don't drink, or smoke, I'm overweight (but not badly). My family have a history of ovarian cysts (my mother had to have some removed surgically and I do get some considerable ovulation pain), which I've heard can be exacerbated by the donation process. We also have a history of thyroid problems. Other than that, I don't think we're prone to anything else. I'd be interested to know what can stop you being a donor, and also, does it affect your ability to conceive naturally in later life?

Any experience/input from other people I'd appreciate!

freelancescientist Fri 23-Sep-11 10:13:58

It sounds like you are approaching this very sensibly and thoughtfully. There are risks with egg donation, and these are the same as for anyone having IVF for themselves. The main risk is something called Ovarian Hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which is an over-response to the drugs given to stimulate the ovaries. It varies from being a bit nauseous to hospitalisation - and it VERY VERY rarely can be serious. If you are at a good clinic you will be very carefully monitored and the dose of your drugs altered.
The egg collection is a surgical procedure so carries risk associated with having sedation (which again is very low), and a risk of infection which can impact on future fertlity. In the clinic where I work we have had no post-egg recovery complications in the last 3 years.
The clinic will check you out medically to see if you are OK to donate - for your health primarily and then for the possible future child. You must also have counselling - this will be provided by the clinic, but bear in mind YOU are the focus, it will not be about forcing you to donate, they have no vested interest or are more on the recipients side than yours.
Some clinics have a policy where they will not consider donors who haven't completed their own family.
Whatever happens you are a good person for even considering being a donor.

MoJangles Fri 23-Sep-11 22:15:07

Hi Notjustme , I can give you a recipient's perspective. I think you must be a very strong and generous person for considering this, and very sensible for taking a measured approach.

I have a DE son and am awaiting the result on our second DE cycle, following multiple IVF failures.

I decided against a known donor, although a good friend offered, because I felt the pain of infertility would be exacerbated by recognising someone else in my child; it would be a constant reminder that someone else had a claim to be their mother. I was also concerned that my friend would find it hard to see me raising any children my way if it differed from hers (and it would have), and would also have felt restricted in terms of future decisions such as potentially moving away, etc. All of these are completely personal and may have no bearing on your situation, but they influenced me.

However, I wanted my DS to be able to contact his donor if he chose to as an adult (we will tell him the truth about his conception), but this won't be possible as we had our DEIVF abroad, where strict anonymity rules apply. So that's another thing to worry about.

I guess my general take on all of this is that it's incredibly personal and complicated by trying to think one's way into situations that don't yet exist, feelings we don't yet have, and the perspective of people who aren't yet born! But as long as you have a good and honest relationship with the prospective parents and can avail yourself of the counselling services the previous poster described (the counselling at one leading London clinic I went to was dreadful so worth making sure you've got the right support) then this could be absolutely wonderful. Good luck!

MoJangles Fri 23-Sep-11 23:05:12

might be useful: research article on known donor experience here

notjustme Sat 24-Sep-11 23:33:49

Hi freelancescientist and MoJangles - thanks so much for your insight and experience.

I must be honest, the ONLY bit I'm scared about at the present is the sedation for the actual egg harvesting - I have a big thing about sedation/GA and whilst I know it sounds completely irrational, it'll take a lot to overcome it but I know I must (plus I have to get over it really, it's unlikely even without the donation I'd go through life without needing some kind of anaesthetic in the future). It stems from a breaking of trust between me and a medical professional when I was younger whilst under GA, and now I don't/can't trust anyone unless I am awake. Currently, if I'm not awake, it ain't happening!!

Apparently there are two options for clinics for our area, one of which is Robert Winston's clinic in London and another is in Cambridgeshire. I really hope that the london clinic MoJangles mentioned isn't RW's one as I really want the counselling to be as thorough as possible. Between me and DP we have tried to come up with negatives, reasons not to go through with the donation (trying to play devils advocate) and we've really struggled to come with anything other than the health risks and the sedation thing, so I want the counselling to make me think of all the things I haven't thought of yet!

I am absolutely sure that methods of raising a child won't be what I have an issue with - my SIL is by far a better kid person than I am, she's a registered nanny and amazing with kids - any child would have a great life with her and her husband. I do wonder how my DP and SIL's H truly feel about the prospect of looking at the child and seeing 'me' - but I guess this will be dealt with during the counselling too. I know that if it was the other way round, and it was SIL's H donating sperm to us, I think I would feel rather different.

Equally, an option that has been raised has been to swap my egg for someone else's egg (traditional egg swap but she doesn't have her own to swap). However I'm really not sure how I feel on this - the prospect of risking my life and future fertility not for my SIL but an unknown recipient doesn't rest quite as easily for me. Although as I write it down on paper, I'm not sure whether that's a slightly irrational path too.

Anyway, we were talking tonight that the poor child might inherit my mother's baggy double chin, my giant boobs and my monkey-like hairiness...maybe SIL will reconsider with that thought in mind!!!

MoJangles Mon 26-Sep-11 07:32:25

Rest assured, it wasn't RW's clinic!

The EC isn't a full anaesthetic, if that helps. It was described to me as 'you're awake but you don't care'. It was my favourite bit of the whole process actually (the anaestetic not the EC itself), the pre-med is fabulous and makes you feel like you've just downed 3 glasses of champagne! I was able to tell the doctors when I started feeling the prodding about and they tweaked the dose upward. It does have an amnesiac effect so you don't remember much/anything, but knowing you're not completely under may help?

Here's to a double-chinned, giant-boobed, hairy, clever, thoughtful, strong and kind baby!

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