Natalie Domsalla is 13 weeks pregnant and can't wait to a be mum after a very stressful and emotional journey.
The 48-year-old, from the NSW town of Bargo, never imagined she'd spend close to $200,000 travelling around the world for donor eggs. Despite her travels, the mum-to-be finally fell pregnant in Australia, via IVF using eggs flown over from the Ukraine.
"It has not been an easy journey to go through," she said. "I feel so guilty that we have had to spend so much money because my body can't do what it used to be able to do naturally."
Natalie already has two adult children but her husband, Grant, has never had his own, so in 2014 they began IVF using Natalie's eggs. After three unsuccessful cycles doctors told her at 43 her eggs were too old and advised her to use donor eggs.
"I was devastated when it didn't work with my own eggs. It took me a long while to come to terms with it. The specialist explained the baby would still be mine because I would be carrying it," Natalie said.
The clinic recommended the couple travel to Hawaii to source donor eggs. There they received eggs from an anonymous donor in her 20s. Two embryos were transferred in January 2015 which didn't result in a pregnancy so six months later they returned to have another two transferred.
This time Natalie did fall pregnant but lost the baby at 11 weeks.
Despite spending around $80,000 on treatment and travel to Hawaii they were not ready to give up yet.
Natalie found the Facebook group Egg Donor Angels Overseas Donation and found a lot of women travelling to South Africa so she decided to give it a go as it was cheaper than Hawaii.
She had one embryo transferred which again didn't work. With only one embryo left frozen it would have been a gamble to return.
It was then that she heard about Fertility First in Sydney offering donor eggs flown in from the Ukraine.
"I felt if I could be in my own country in my own surroundings, I would be better," she explained.
Natalie and her husband bought ten eggs altruistically donated from a 25-year-old Ukrainian donor and after fertilisation one embryo was good enough to transfer.
"I was anxious, and the two weeks wait after transfer was horrible. When I got told it was positive I burst into tears and couldn't believe it.
"We are excited but this time we are very guarded and haven't told anyone we are pregnant and won't until 20 weeks because of the heartache.
"It was such a long hard road for us. There were times when I wanted to give up and thought it would never happen."
Fertility First is one of three clinics in Australia now flying in eggs from the Ukraine.
Director Dr Anne Clark said they began the donor egg program in July 2017 after six months of ensuring all Australian regulations were complied with.
"There is a lack of availability of donor eggs in Australia. Women are not likely to donate altruistically to someone they don't know."
She said demand for the Ukrainian donor eggs continues to rise with 10-12 women a month now using them and 60 successful pregnancies in the last year alone.
"Pregnancy rates per batch of eggs is about 80 per cent ongoing pregnancy rate," Dr Clark said.
The clinic now plans to offer a pregnancy guarantee program which would give couples a 50 per cent rebate if unsuccessful.
Dr Clark said all donors are counselled by Australian psychologist before donating and put on the NSW central donor registry, so children born from donor eggs can contact them once they turn 18.
She said an embryologist hand carries the eggs from the Ukraine to ensure they arrive in perfect condition.
It costs US$13,250 to buy ten eggs in addition to the IVF costs for the clinic.
Currently the only other option for women to access overseas donor eggs in Australia is through the World Egg Bank, which sources donors from America.