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Egg sharer's stories

Katy and Glen Roberts


After our third IVF attempt, my husband Glen and I began to have difficulties raising the money to continue with treatment. We both wanted desperately to have a family, and neither of us was getting any younger. We were devastated. With three failed attempts behind us, we weren't eligible on the NHS for treatment, so we admitted to our doctor that we would have to wait before we could continue with our next cycle.

Although I couldn't become pregnant naturally because both my fallopian tubes and one ovary had been removed because of chronic polycystic ovary syndrome, the irony was that my condition was quite treatable. So we began to look into egg-sharing. The London Women's Clinic wouldn't let us make any snap decisions - we were told all the facts and statistics, discussed good and bad scenarios, and were given counselling to ensure that we fully understood all the implications.

My chief concern was for my husband, not for me. What if egg-sharing worked for the recipient but not us? I would have helped create a life somewhere but my husband wouldn't. My husband's response was, "I hope that if we didn't have our own eggs then someone would donate eggs to us." And he was so right. I agreed that, if I couldn't generate my own eggs, I hoped someone would donate eggs to me. If I wanted it one way, it had to work the other way too.

Thinking in this way, it became clear to us that money was the minor issue, and we really wanted to take part. It seemed right and natural to offer the opportunity for egg-sharing to someone else too. Indeed, if we had known about it sooner, we would have started sooner, regardless of the money. I felt good knowing that even if egg-sharing didn't work for me, it might work for someone else. So in a small way, I would have helped create life.

Whilst going through our first egg-sharing cycle, it was wonderful knowing someone else was going through it at the same time, with our help.

It took the strain off thinking about our situation the whole time; we had someone out there going through it with us. Sadly, our first cycle didn't work for us, and it did not work for my recipient either. My husband and I were totally devastated for her and her partner; so we offered to give them the next batch of eggs for free. It wasn't a negative or destructive sadness; it was a mutual understanding that two strangers were going through what we were going through, and it actually helped as part of our own grieving.

In spite of this, my husband and I could not wait to start our next cycle, not only because we were still hoping to become pregnant ourselves, but also to help another "family-wanna-be" too. We knew the risks and chances of IVF success and failure, and to be truthful the odds aren't great. But those odds are the same whether you are keeping all your eggs or sharing a few.

Following further IVF treatments, I became pregnant, and now we have a little boy called Luke. But even before I had Luke, I wanted to donate my eggs. I wanted to know that if my body was never able to become pregnant, I was able to do it for someone else, so to speak.

I am a woman and deep down have an intrinsic belief that I'm meant to create life. I feel that people who are anti egg-sharing are missing this point: I would have been far more distressed being unable to do what a woman is meant to do than knowing that my egg donation worked for someone else and not for me. Why would I feel bitter or resentful because my egg helped another woman become a mother?

Andrea Barker-Gardner


For as long as I can remember, I'd wanted to donate my eggs to help an infertile couple. Then I met Dorothy and eventually we decided to start our own family. Egg-sharing seemed the perfect solution for us; not only could we help another couple, but our financial commitment might also be reduced.

We talked with one another, and discussed it with the clinic's counsellors, and after careful consideration, agreed to use donor sperm. Next came blood tests and other assessments, and finally the clinic found a suitable recipient for my eggs. The clinic also helped us find a suitable sperm donor, and advised that fertilisation would be by the technique of ICSI.

We were overjoyed when we found out I was pregnant and couldn't believe everything had worked first time. Our son, George, is now six months old and already we can't imagine life without him. We did, however, learn the recipient in our egg-sharing scheme was not so lucky, and we were very upset for her.

Because I was successful in my first treatment cycle, we still had spare embryos in storage, so we decided to donate them to an infertile couple in the hope we could still help someone else's pregnancy. Eggs and embryos are scarce, so why waste them? I am still under 35, so making the decision was not difficult. I have time on my side so, when we decide to have another baby, we'll try egg-sharing once more and donate any unused embryos again.

Counselling made us aware that sperm and egg sharers are no longer anonymous in the UK, and that new legislation in 2005 gave children conceived by donor eggs and sperm the right to receive identifying information at the age of 18. We know they can find their genetic parent, but that didn't stop me donating eggs and embryos, or receiving donated sperm.

We will always be grateful to our sperm donor, who provided a gift words cannot describe. We are also grateful to our consultant, Mimi and all their colleagues at The LWC. Their care and professionalism were outstanding.

Dorothy Barker-Gardner

I must admit that I was nervous when Andrea began treatment. I was worried about what it would involve – and about the expense. But after meeting our consultant and knowing how much we wanted our own family, my nerves soon began to fade.

I always supported Andrea’s decision to donate her eggs and embryos – after all, if it wasn’t for our sperm donor we would never have had our son. Unfortunately, I am too old to donate my own eggs, but if I could have, I would have.

It was an amazing experience for me to see our son being born, and I enjoy every second spent with him.

The care we received at The LWC was so valuable, and it was so reassuring to be treated more like friends than patients.