At Nurture, we are in AWE of our amazing donors!
Their kindness, generosity & amazing tenacity is what makes magic happen for so many families who are able to have the children they have dreamed of.
Here are some wonderful stories from our current and past Egg Donors. We hope these stories inspire you as much as they inspire us!
Now I know what it is to give back to the world!
Lori* hadn’t heard much about infertility, but once she started exploring donation, she realised how many suffered from it
“I had never given infertility a thought in my life, it was something which never crossed my mind. We had family friends who battled with infertility for a long time, I remember asking my mum why they had not had kids as all of mum and dads other friends had kids, she explained to me what infertility was all about and I was intrigued. I thought about if for a long time after that – why wouldn’t a lady be able to have a baby?
Time went on and I found this super-awesome company called Nurture!
I wanted to be able to help people who battled to conceive as I am young and healthy and I felt it was right for me. I had to fill out the application form which truly made me dig deep into myself; I learned I had talents and a history that I would never normally talk about. I sent off my application form and I was chosen!
I got a phone call from Melany telling me about my recipient couple, where they came from and that they had matched me. I was so excited! It was one thing filling out a form telling people about yourself, but to be REALLY chosen by someone is so mind-blowing, like there was someone out there who truly needed me.
I always took my red hair and fair skin for granted; Melany assured me that I was a rare treasure as I was not the run-of-the-mill blonde hair and blue eyes or brown hair and brown eyes. I was so, so excited to do something so new and so different.
Back at home, the more I told people I was becoming a donor, the more stories I heard of people who genuinely battled to have kids. This world I was about to enter was not a world of fun and excitement – these couples had given up their savings, their homes and their dreams of becoming parents. I felt almost sacred as I would be able to give a hint of a chance of happiness to someone who really needed it.
Questions do go through your mind, which really are frequently asked questions. Is this child going to be half mine? Is this anything like adoption? Am I giving up the chance to have my own kids one day? What if this kid wants to find me one day? Do I want to contact the parents in the future?
All these questions made me a bit nervous but as I walked into the clinic it felt like I was walking into a church, so peaceful, so many different people. While sitting in the waiting room, I heard American, English, Australian and French accents. Infertility is huge, it’s all over the world, it affects thousands of people, and I felt honoured to be part of something bigger than myself.
I met Dr. Heylen and within three minutes of meeting him, he had answered all my questions. This is not a child you are giving up; you are merely helping someone in their quest to conceiving a child. But it can be a bit off-putting when those around you do not understand what you are trying to do so they bombard you with negativity.
I was astounded at the level of efficiency and service from both Nurture and CFC – any questions I had were answered. I was a bit apprehensive about taking the medication but I had zero side effects, because it’s not harmful to you at all. Once a day to have a tiny injection was truly nothing to stress about and getting back into sync with my period in the following months was so easy!
As my donation date was getting closer I felt a serious emotional connection with my recipients. I had never met them nor would I ever meet them, but our bond somehow (very supernaturally) was incredible. I woke up after my donation so full of excitement, the same excitement which had filled me when I heard I was chosen. Something awesome is on the way! I think of my couple every day, and I thank God for how healthy I am in that having kids is not an issue for me at all. My experience with Nurture and my donation was out of this world, the love and care given by Melany and the CFC doctors and nurses was unforgettable.
I always wondered what it was that I could give back to the world, and now I know.
“I just finished my 4th Egg Donation”
Straight from her blog Kathcake, Katherine writes about why she keeps on donating
So! I have been an egg donor for a year now and finished my fourth donation. It’s a process and part of my life I never knew I would reach but looking back I have no regrets. It’s a surprisingly personal journey too – despite the anonymity between the donour and recipient. For each donation I felt part of something rather special and just being able to give something back made me feel like I left a positive mark somewhere in the world. Yes, there’s some hype about the process and sadly some rather offish misconceptions. So here I am! Still alive and fertile! I’m going to attempt to educate people because I feel like it’s something worthwhile knowing about. In a way it changed my life for the better.
I first considered becoming a donor when I came across a magazine article on surrogacy. My immediate thought was – this is amazing. A woman, who was already a mom of two, signed up to become a surrogate for a couple who couldn’t have their own baby. Hearing her account of the pregnancy and becoming the part of another family gave me goosebumps. I also realise my medical background has a huge influence on my outlook – I’m thinking, ‘hey your womb wouldn’t have anything to do otherwise’ and I part of feels like the surrogates body is engineered for the incredible process of pregnancy so why the hell not make the most of it. Whether you agree or disagree, no one can argue that didn’t she changed three lives forever and for the better.
So that was last December and I then went on a research mission to find out about egg donoring. I don’t think I’m ready to be a surrogate. The first pregnancy, for me, will have to be my own little gem! Egg donouring was definitely in my mind – I knew I would do it 100% but I was worried about infertility and truthfully I thought it might involve something of a c-section type surgery. My mind raced to possible death and future infertility. Yes,I know – it was a bit extreme but what’s that they say about ignorance and fear being rather intimately connected?
I searched the internet for real life accounts, medical research and companies before I settled on an agency that looked legit. The website was beautiful and what struck me was the owner of the company had struggled with infertility herself. She understood what it was like to feel and to experience the process. This sold me. The company she had created was something she gave ‘birth’ to and designed to be good enough for her and any woman.
I sent in an email out and a few days later planned to have coffee with one of the team. I met Mel and she was a NOT a businesswoman! Not for a moment did I feel like I was being recruited. She hugged me when she greeted me and I was reminded, again, that this is not an corporate company and the nature of its business is so personal. I hadn’t made my mind up completely about the whole thing. It turned out that Mel had been an egg donour too since joining the company – just to be part of it! She answered my rather silly but gory questions.
That was it – I said yes. Just so you know, I’m not going to say the company, I guess half of me doesn’t want this to be an advert for them.
I filled out a long labourious form that detailed my family’s eye colour to their diseases, my handedness and everything to my height. It was the usual medical histories and characteristics of my gene pool. I actually thought I should keep a copy of the form so that whoever I plan to have kids with one day can fill it out too – KIDDING! The form also had some questions for me too, like things I enjoy doing and also the one that stuck out was ‘If you could spend a day with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?’ that was a tough one. In the end I chose Leonardo Da Vinci, I guess he was a scientist (genius) and artist which is a rare combination that I totally love. I also had to answer what my last meal would be if I had to choose? er? I don’t know…burger and coke probably?
My first selection! It was only a few weeks before I got notified that a recipient had ‘chosen’ me. I cannot describe the feeling. It was better than winning a prestigious trophy a school. The actual thought that someone had picked me for such an important task was….just. I don’t know? An honour really – and to a complete stranger. I obviously said yes. At the time I kept my new position as an egg donor rather secret. I was embarrassed.
I thought that I might be judged by my friends. I also didn’t want an onslaught on questions about it either. I did tell the boy I was dating and his reaction, although supportive, was…why?? The money I explained was definitely appealing and I’m a varsity student so that just makes any lump sum of cash seem amazing. I just didn’t want anyone to think that was the only reason – seems a bit shallow. It definitely wasn’t for me and surrogacy is something I will always be open to later in my life. Given it’s the right time.
I explained to my boyfriend (and reiterated this to myself) that it was more. I felt like it was something I could do because of ME! Partly my religious ambiguity and lack of emotion to the topic, medical knowledge, good genes and my achievements so far. I felt I should do something about what I have been genetically handed down. I have also since become an organ donor and bone marrow donor.
It’s hard to explain my mumbled thoughts but I wish you would understand how passionate I am about this! I did nothing to deserve my family’s lack of medical history of any cancers, serious disease and rare conditions. I was lucky? I also am a healthy, intelligent and well rounded person (I want to say human here but that sounds impersonal).
The other bit, that emotional part for me thought. I have family and some of them I can’t believe I’m related to? The cousin with teen pregnancy, drugs and drama. Or my dodgy philandering uncle who in my mind is just a bad human being. I’m related to them?! Then closer to home. My dad never wanted children. I knew what a vasectomy was when I was 11 when he mentioned it at dinner that he took some more drastic measures to ensure there were no more surprises- three was more than enough already.
I tried to put myself in ‘their’ shoes. If I’m in the same position one day where I want and need children. I cannot imagine the feeling that some of the woman I have donated for must have. They are all successful and have reached a time in their life where they so badly want to share it with children. Every single donor baby is planned, wanted and so desperately wished for. I’m kind of envious of that. What lucky kids! Studies have found that they also do better than average population across the board, I suppose it’s a bit of everything but mainly they are wanted so much. It makes a huge difference when I did my obstetrics block and delivered babies to teen mothers that had only defaulted on contraception, or moms that hadn’t bothered at all with family planning but didn’t want children? It’s not just poor education in my mind. It’s APATHY! There is free family planning at clinics, Western Cape has a successful public health policy. I have had so many women say, ‘ no more babies after this’. I saw pregnancies that had no antenatal care, the mother had not bothered in nine months to have a check up at the clinic. I delivered an intra-uterine death. Then there are the more drastic scenarios like a baby being dumped in a public bathroom, the mother had given birth to it in secret there and delivered the placenta as well. Both the baby and afterbirth were left there. Naked. Alone. Unwanted. That happens? That’s the other side of the spectrum. Oh yes, and woman who are pregnant them smoke? drink? The full monty. It makes my blood boil. I cannot judge, I am in no position to – really. This is merely my thoughts and feelings toward the topic. I haven’t lived in anyone one of those woman’s shoes and I don’t know how their decisions are made.
This is genes! Not just hardwork… it’s thanks to the wonderful combination of my linage that I have a tall slender(-ish) figure and an above average intelligence. It feels like a passed a huge exam without any work and by just being ME! Cool eh? I consider it lucky (you may consider it a blessing) that I don’t have obesity, ADHD and rarer disorders like myasthenia gravis. I’m just saying – wow, this body rocks and I can much more with it. I saw a 13 year old paraplegic a few weeks ago he had been accidently caught in gang crossfire , and thought ‘fuck’. Instead of thinking he’s so unlucky I rather thought, hell, I’m the lucky one. This life is brief and everything moment, every part of me is something I should not take for granted.
The donor bit. I had my first gynae appointment – ever! I hadn’t been off the virginity market very long at all. Sex, vaginas, gynaecologist – they’re bit in the deep dark realm of scary. That is an overshare that makes me partly wish I wrote this article anonymously. Then I think – hell! I’m nearly a doctor and apart from seeing more naked bodies than I can count, I realise that my awkwardness about the topic of sex is silly. I need to ask patients now, and in the future… ‘do you have sex with men, women or both?’. There’s no room for sillyness is my life. That concludes part one, think I should mention that I’m also a bone marrow donor, blood donor and recently an organ donor.
You can save lives in your spare time
– the risks are low and the benefits high. So I say why not sign up?! The lack of education is the killer – learn more and then make your decision.
“I wanted to give someone else the chance of a family”
From egg donation to twins, donor Candace Whitehead shares her process
I’ve been asked so many times since I started this: “Why donate your eggs?” I don’t have one specific answer – I have dozens of reasons – and they will change on a particular day. If I’m feeling particularly cynical, I’ll say “Well, the money’s decent” – although I would still do it for nothing at all. Most of the time, I’ll say that it’s because I want to help. I want to give somebody a chance at a family. I want to do something spectacular for somebody else. And because I hope that if I ever needed it, I would hope that somebody else would step up and donate their eggs for me. Honestly, I can think of dozens of reasons why I should donate, but not a single reason why I shouldn’t.
I’m young – 24 years old – and single, although not the Bridget-Jones-cry-into-my-wine-curse-all-men kind of single (Okay, well, not often at least). Do I see children in my future? I think so. I want a family – whether that family includes a four dogs and a life partner, or the more traditional husband and two-and-a-half-kids, I’m not sure yet. But family is, bar none, the most important thing to me. I currently have an extremely demanding career in the media – I am the entertainment editor and social media manager for one of South Africa’s major news websites. And yes, this means I do read celebrity gossip, watch movies and check Facebook six hundred times a day for a living. It also means regular thirteen hour days – and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
My journey to Nurture started almost a year before I donated for the first time. My ex-boyfriend had donated sperm before we started dating, and I was so inspired by his attitude that I wanted to do something similar. He mentioned that there was a shortage of egg donors and suggested I look into it. I started investigating egg donation agencies and found some absolutely hellish ones before stumbling across the Nurture website, bookmarking it and promptly forgetting about it.
Then a few months down the line, I was alone in the office working the weekend shift. I found the bookmark and started filling in my details. I think I got about half-way through the scary, long, tell-Nurture-everything-about-your-life form before it was time to go home – and I forgot about it again. (I’m scatterbrained, can you tell?) An email asking if I was still keen to donate came on a terrible, terrible day – one of those “I have achieved nothing with my life” days – so I said heck, yes, I’ll donate.
I had my interview/coffee date with Mel and Lee a while later and that same afternoon, I was told that I had been chosen. From there I scheduled my psychological evaluation with Leanne – we had a wonderful chat that honestly seemed like a lot less than an hour! – and my initial appointment with Dr Le Roux, who was so kind and gentle that any nervousness I had been feeling disappeared within minutes. I have also been asked so many times “Aren’t you terrified? Aren’t you scared something will go wrong? What if you can’t have your own babies later on?” Honestly, the thing I was most scared of the whole way through? Not being able to give my recipient what she’d been dreaming of. I was never truly scared of any complications (although obviously it has to be in the back of your mind somewhere) but I had so much faith in Dr Le Roux and his team that I was more worried about not being able to bring my side to the party.
And then, of course, there were the injections – which so many of my friends said would have put them off donating. Yes, the injections were probably the worst part. The first morning was awful. I needed to do them before work – and seeing as I start work at 7am, it meant pretty much the first thing I did in the morning was poke myself in the stomach. I went from half-asleep and bleary-eyed to wide awake and slightly nauseous in the space of the two seconds it took to flip off the lid of the needle. But once I got the hang of things, the Gonal-F injections (the ones they give you to stimulate your ovaries) were easy!
Somewhat more exciting were my at-home Cetrotide injections to prevent inconvenient ovulation. Dr Le Roux gave me the crash course on how to mix it up and inject – no easy-use pen here! One Sunday morning and with great gusto, I mixed the medication, marvelling at my hitherto-unknown medical skills. I sucked in the mixture with the needle, feeling like a one-woman episode of House, noticed an air bubble, misread the directions and proceeded to squirt mixture all across my bedroom. I stared at the floor for a second, then injected the remaining mixture (plus the air bubble I was trying to get rid of). Then panicked. What if there wasn’t enough medication? What if I ruined this all? I mailed the lovely Lee in a complete state – but within an hour she and Mel had calmed me down, told me not to worry – and the next day, my scan revealed that everything was on track. I was left with one heck of a bruise (air bubbles suck) and a deeper appreciation of reading the instructions.
I was fortunate in that I responded beautifully to all the medication – Dr Le Roux was always so pleased with my scans and I realised I was quite proud of myself. Strange, seeing as women are “supposed” to ovulate, but hey, I like being good at things. We were bang on track for my donation – and suddenly, somehow, the big day had dawned. I woke up in the morning with stomach pain – whether from nerves or from the donation, I’m still not sure – and was surprised that I was rather terrified. No, I wasn’t scared of the donation or the anaesthetic. I was instead worried that the friend that was taking me to the clinic was going to be extra late or forget me entirely. I have known him since university, and so I know that he’s pretty much always late. So, to be safe, I told him to come ten minutes before the time I was actually planning to leave. He was still late and we still got stuck in traffic.
Once I’d been admitted, and dressed in possibly the least sexy hospital gown of all time, I was led to the table where the anaesthetist I’d met earlier was standing by. She asked me what I did for a living, I mentioned my celebrity gossip card, and she delighted in informing me that the medication she was about to inject was the one that “Michael Jackson loved a little too much”. Then – blackness.
When I woke up, I was in a fair amount of pain. It’s different for every single woman – and even different each time, I was assured. The girl in the next bed was pretty much up and tap-dancing straight after her donation, while I was curled up in a ball in tears. Clearly, though, I wasn’t put off by the pain – seeing as I’ve signed on for another round – and I was back at work the next morning, after spending a glorious afternoon in bed watching cheesy movies.
Tertia knows that I’m positively fascinated by the whole process, and she gave me a breakdown of exactly how many “good eggs” and decent embryos they’d managed to get. A few days later, Lee phoned me while I was at the Waterfront– the reception was so bad, but I could make out one thing – my recipient was pregnant. Better news came a while later – twins! (I’m still superstitious and am keeping all fingers and toes crossed for her until her due date.)
Do I ever think about meeting my recipient’s children? Of course I do. I’d like to see that they’re healthy – and don’t have three arms or something – and obviously I’m curious about how much they resemble me. But that’s about it. A good friend of mine was shocked that I wouldn’t want to be involved in “my” children’s life – but they aren’t my children. They never were. As cheesy as it sounds, they always belonged to my recipient, who walked a terrifying, difficult road. I’m just glad that I could help pave the way a little, and hopefully make the rest of the way a little smoother.
After I came round from my anaesthetic on the morning of my donation, Dr Le Roux brought me a card from my recipient. In it, along with a tiny silver charm, were the words
“There aren’t enough words to properly express our gratitude. Thank you.”
That was all. And that was enough.
“My journey has been nothing short of fabulous”
Having asked hundreds of questions, and after weeks of producing the “perfect egg”, Lebo* had a smooth and rewarding path to donation.
“From that first email saying ‘You have been chosen as a donor’, to the last nervous moments in theatre when the doctor said ‘You’re going to feel a little light headed, but you won’t remember a thing’, my journey with Nurture has been nothing short of fabulous.
The whole process seemed to fly by so quickly. Once the paperwork was sorted and the initial appointments with the doctors were done, there was no looking back – I was on my way to changing someone’s life forever.
The injections initially seemed so daunting, but after the first one, I knew I would be just fine. The next two weeks of doctors’ appointments, healthy eating (a little insanity on my part in trying to produce the perfect egg), and injections went well.
On that Monday morning, after getting stuck in traffic and getting lost a bit because of nerves, I got to the hospital to the friendly staff who reassured me that everything was fine and I began to relax. I wish I could have watched the actual retrieval, that’s how excited I was about doing this, but doctor knows best…so it was lights out for me. After an hour (Im guessing), I woke up to a little pain and discomfort, but it was done. After a few days of bed rest and light activity, my journey as a donor had ended.
I pray that in my giving, a new family has been born. May God guide you and bless you in your new journey as parents and a family. My love and prayers are forever with you.