'I donated my eggs in return for cheaper IVF - it saved me £6,000 at least'

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Sarah was able to access affordable IVF treatment through egg sharing (Image: Bourn Hall Clinic)
Sarah was able to access affordable IVF treatment through egg sharing (Image: Bourn Hall Clinic)

A new mum who made the decision to egg share while undergoing IVF is now encouraging others to consider the same path. Like many people, single and independent Sarah began reflecting on what she wanted from life at around the age of 30 and decided to take action to realise her dream of becoming a mum.

Having not yet met the right person to settle down with, Sarah opted to go down the intrauterine insemination (IUI) route, after her 32nd birthday, at Bourn Hall fertility clinic. With IUI, sperm is inserted directly into a woman's uterus. Clinics claim this is a more cost-effective treatment than In vitro fertilisation (IVF), whereby an egg is extracted from a woman's ovaries and fertilised using sperm in a laboratory.

Those undergoing IUI treatment can expect to pay around £1,500 plus £1,000 for donated sperm if required, however, success rates tend to be lower. Unfortunately, Sarah's two rounds of IUI proved to be unsuccessful, leaving her 'devastated'.

'I donated my eggs in return for cheaper IVF - it saved me £6,000 at least' rriqudiuriqkkinvSarah has now welcomed little Esme to the world (Bourn Hall Clinic)
'I donated my eggs in return for cheaper IVF - it saved me £6,000 at least'Sarah hit 'rock bottom' after undergoing two unsuccessful rounds of IUI (Stock Photo) (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Nursery manager Sarah said: "I had both of them back-to-back; I had the first one in January and the second one at the beginning of March. At that point I thought that was it, I would never be able to be a mum. I hit rock bottom and Bourn Hall organised a counselling session for me which was really, really helpful.

“The counsellor advised me that I needed time to heal. It is really important that your body and mind are ready if you want to try again."

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At this point, Sarah didn't know whether she'd be able to put herself through another round of IUI, and also didn't think she'd be able to afford to pursue IVF, a route which would have cost her 'thousands more'. Then she received a life-changing phone call from her mum.

'I donated my eggs in return for cheaper IVF - it saved me £6,000 at least'Sarah is incredibly grateful to her 'hero' sperm donor (Bourn Hall Clinic)

Sarah recalled: "My mum was reading the Bourn Hall website and she rang me and asked if I had seen that if you become an egg donor you can actually get it a lot cheaper.

"And my first thought was 'I would love to do that - Oh my god, can you imagine if I managed to do that for somebody else?’

“You basically get a free basic round of IVF and you pay for any extras, so for example I paid for the donor sperm and for the lab to get my embryos to day five (blastocyst), but I reckon I saved about £6,000 to £7,000."

After starting IVF in November 2021, Sarah, fortunately, had a high egg count, and produced 15 mature eggs on her egg collection day. Out of these 15, she was able to share seven of these.

This particular route may not be suitable for everyone, and the offer of discounts to those sharing eggs has previously proven controversial.

Opponents of such schemes have expressed concerns about those struggling for money potentially being taken advantage of, arguing that they put those suffering fertility issues under pressure at a vulnerable time.

With many people experiencing heightened financial difficulties amid the cost of living crisis, such fears are increasingly pertinent - but for Sarah, she feels it worked out well.

Although she consented to sharing with as many other people as possible, she says they will likely go to just one person.

'I donated my eggs in return for cheaper IVF - it saved me £6,000 at least'Sarah was able to afford IVF treatment through egg sharing (Stock Photo) (Getty Images)

Out of the eight eggs Sarah kept for herself, a total of seven were fertilised. Five of the embryos made it to day five, at which point one was transferred and the rest frozen. On day 14, despite having 'no symptoms at all', Sarah awoke at 5 am and decided to take two tests. They came back positive, leaving her 'over the moon'.

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Having now welcomed baby Esmé to the world, Sarah is incredibly grateful to her 'hero' sperm donor, and is delighted that she too was able to help others start families of their own.

Sarah continued: "The day Esmé was born was completely surreal. I had a C-section which went smoothly; it was such a lovely and calm experience. I couldn’t believe that after everything I had been through to get her, she was finally here and I had done it!

“Being an egg donor makes me feel amazing; you can request an update about how it has worked for someone else. I honestly cannot wait to find out – that would be the next best thing to come out of this.

“For the sperm donor the words ‘thank you’ will never be enough. People who donate have no idea how much they change people’s lives and make their dreams come true. Even though I have never met him, he has helped to give me a beautiful baby girl and for that, he will forever be my hero.

“Being a mum means everything. I now can’t imagine Esmé not being here, I have just loved every single second of it. I think when you want something that badly and you have gone through all of that then it just feels absolutely incredible.”

New findings from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) show one in six IVF treatments involved donation back in 2019. Following cuts in non-essential treatment amid the coronavirus pandemic, however, egg bank stocks have decreased, while clinics have also had to contend with donor shortages.

Eligible egg donors hoping to help others realise their dreams of parenthood will need to be aged between 18 and 35. They will also need to be in good health with no family history of serious or inherited illnesses. Those seeking IVF treatment or egg freezing for social reasons can choose to egg-share, which they can usually do in return for some discount, or even free treatment.

Do you have an IVF story to share? Email us at [email protected]

Julia Banim

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15.07.2024, 17:44 • Investigation