She had been thinking about it for years but it wasn’t until Covid came along that the time seemed right for Christina to donate her eggs for IVF
Lockdown has affected us all differently but for student midwife and mum of three Christina it spurred her on to do something that had always been at the back of her mind – the chance to help another woman have a child.
“As a trainee midwife I’ve seen what it is like for people who have tried unsuccessfully, sometimes for years, to have a baby of their own, and the joy on their faces when after undergoing IVF their dream finally comes true,” said Christina, 29.
“I’ve got three lovely children of my own and don’t want any more, so it seemed like a bit of a waste of my eggs not to donate them and give another person the family and children they so desperately want.
“When we were trying for our second child it took me a year to become pregnant again. I was completely panicking so I can’t even comprehend what people who can’t conceive go through or how they must feel. It must be absolutely heart-breaking.”
After Covid forced her to study at home, Christina was catching up with friends one evening when an appeal popped up on Facebook from the Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine (BCRM) seeking potential egg donors.
“We’d just been learning about conception at uni and how complicated it all is and I found it really fascinating, so when the ad popped up it was almost like fate, I suppose, and I followed the link for more information.
“The team at BCRM were brilliant. As soon as I emailed and said I was interested, they sent me through some details, and said if I decided egg donation wasn’t right for me that was fine. There was no pressure. It was very much at my own pace.
“I started talking with the clinic last April and they set me up on Zoom so I was able to chat with people over video calls, and although I couldn’t go in and speak with anyone there was always somebody to go over things with me ‘face-to-face’.
“I told my family what I wanted to do and they were all really supportive and kept saying how selfless it was and they were really proud of me.”
Over the next few months Christina underwent medical screening including blood tests and family background checks to rule out serious genetic or hereditary conditions that would prevent her from donating her eggs. Happily everything was fine.
Meanwhile, to make sure she understood the short and long-term implications of donating her eggs, Christina also had a session with a counsellor from the clinic, who is neutral and not directly involved in her medical care.
“Counselling sounded really scary but it was fine. They were just making sure I understood and went through everything step by step and what it all meant. You get to think the whole thing all through before committing.
“They explained any child conceived from my eggs would have the legal right to contact the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority for identifying information about me when they turn 18, but that they wouldn’t be able to trace me independently.
“I also had to write a description about myself: what I look like, what I like and don’t like, what my hobbies are, what I’m interested in, my level of education, but without them knowing who I am.”
Christina started the egg donation process five months later
“They sent the medication through to my house and I went through what I would be taking with a nurse, and how to inject myself and then we set up a plan for me to take the drugs for a certain number of days.
“I had to go into the clinic three times for scans and bloods. They would talk me through everything they were looking at and show me how many follicles or eggs I had, and how big they were.”
Under HFEA rules it is illegal to pay for egg donation in the UK. However, donors can receive compensation of up to £750 per donation ‘cycle’ to cover their costs, which came as a surprise to Christina.
“I was just doing it because it was something I wanted to, so when one of the nurses said they were going to reimburse me, I was like ‘pardon?’ I totally didn’t realise that there was money involved. I had no idea you got any compensation.
“But it did cover the costs of me travelling to the clinic, taking time off work for the scans and for childcare. I was quite willing to do that anyway, so it was a nice surprise.”
Christina says although the medication did not affect her mood, she was nonetheless glad when the process was over.
“I was getting really bloated and bizarrely felt like I was pregnant. I guess if your body is used to producing just one egg a month, then it’s producing a large number then it’s going to feel a bit different. But it was fine.”
“When I came around, I woke up and sat up too quickly which made me feel horribly sick but that soon passed. I did feel poorly for about 24 hours but I kind of expected that. After that it was fine and back to normal.
“They told me that they’d got a really good number of eggs and that two separate couples were going to use them.
“I’m so thrilled to have been able to play a part in helping couples experiencing fertility issues to have a much-longed for family. I’m really glad I did it and if it’s right for them, I would definitely encourage other women to do the same.”
If you would like to speak to a member of the team at BCRM about egg donation, call 0117 414 6888 or click here to email