Egg donation: a gift like no other

"Being a mother is one of the most amazing opportunities in the world" ... Kylee Poole with her husband Jonathan and ...
"Being a mother is one of the most amazing opportunities in the world" ... Kylee Poole with her husband Jonathan and son, Taine. Photo: Supplied

Kylee Poole, 31, a teacher from Gisborne, New Zealand, hadn't considered egg donation until she heard about it through her mother's group. 

"A lady mentioned that she knew a couple who had used an egg donor to conceive a child, who was not much younger then my own son, and I actually thought it was a bit strange. I suppose I couldn't comprehend having a child that wasn't genetically your own," she says.

But as time went on, the thought stayed in her mind, and gradually her views changed.

"I don't know if it was from the joy of being a mother myself," she says, "but I started to see more often people advertising for egg donors and think what if that was me?   

"We also had friends who struggled to conceive and that probably hit home for me as well. I was one of the lucky ones, first try and pregnant with both my kids.

"I decided to become an egg donor because I would want someone to help me if the shoe was on the other foot. Being a mother is one of the most amazing opportunities in the world and if I could help someone experience that, it would be worth it."

Once she'd decided she was interested in egg donation, and had had two children of her own, it wasn't easy for Poole to work up the courage to take the next step. 

"I did a lot of research on the internet about the actual process and some of the rules around it. I found an online form on Fertility Associates and filled it in about 100 times before I actually pushed send."

She also had a lot of long discussions with her husband Jonathan, 37.

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"I did ask my husband numerous times about his views and I think I was really seeking his support before I made that first step. After crossing the biggest hurdle, pushing send on the website, I didn't hear from Fertility Associates for a few weeks. When they did ring they had a chat to me about the actual process and what was involved (drugs, counselling) and asked if I was willing to go to the next step, which was blood tests."

Poole had the blood tests then had to wait for three months. She then filled out a non-identifying profile about herself; after that, she had a counselling session over the phone, in which she spoke about the kind of people she was happy to donate to.  

"That part really made me think about who I wanted them to go to," she says. "It's really important to be honest with the counsellor about that because that's how they match you with potential recipients."

Following the counselling session, Poole had a scan to see what the best plan for her egg collection would be.

"After more blood tests to make sure I was healthy - I also had swabs, and my husband also had blood tests - Jonathan and I went for a counselling session in Wellington to go over the process and discuss any feelings we had, and to look at some potential recipient profiles.

"From there, none of the profiles really matched who I was happy to donate to, so we moved our search from Wellington to Hamilton," she explains.

"In Hamilton, they found three couples who matched my criteria. I had to choose a couple who I was most happy to donate to - not the easiest job in the world. I chose a couple and then my profile was sent to them and they accepted me, so it was all go."

Poole and the couple met all together with a counsellor, and then it was a matter of waiting for her period to set a plan. After that, she took the necessary drugs and it was egg collection day. The whole process took a little over a year.

The hardest parts of the journey

Poole says there was no stopping her once she'd decided to donate, but she wanted to meet the recipients before going ahead.

"At one point I wasn't sure the recipients wanted to meet, and that had been really important to me. I needed to see who I was helping as I was putting my body through a big thing. I just needed to see where it was going," she says. "It worked out they did want to meet me in the end. I felt excited and privileged to be able to help someone in such a personal way."

The process of egg collection itself can be uncomfortable, Poole says. 

"To start off with the injections were a bit of a novelty, but that quickly wore off. For a few weeks your life revolves around drugs and injections. At times I felt a bit under the weather with headaches and tiredness, and then bloated and uncomfortable. But it is only for about four weeks, which is nothing compared to what some people trying to conceive go through."

"The actual egg donation was a mix of nervousness and excitement. You don't remember much of the actual egg retrieval from the drugs they give you, and you feel uncomfortable and sore afterwards - a bit like period pain, slightly more. I was really bloated and sore with mild nausea but that passed after a couple of weeks."

Poole says she has told the couple that she would love to get updates on their pregnancy progress, but that she has left it up to them if they want to contact her in future.   

"Once I had meet the recipients I was almost at peace with myself about what I was doing," she explains.   

"I think that in the future I will often think about the couple and the child/children as I do now. There will definitely be a sort of connection there but it's a connection that is hard to describe - I gave them a gift to help them, but that is their child, not mine."

Poole's advice for anyone considering becoming an egg donor is to be prepared for an amazing journey.  

"You need someone/people supporting you along the way - that was important in my journey, and made it easier. Never doubt yourself and what you are doing.

"And be prepared to have a few days off work. I was honest with my boss and he was understanding and supportive."

And would she do it again? 

"For me the most rewarding aspect was being able to help someone in a unique way. I have a feeling of pure happiness and relief for the people I have helped and I would do it again in a heartbeat."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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