This week a campaign begun to encourage more women to donate their eggs for those who cannot conceive.
There has long been a shortage of egg donors in this country and statistics have shown that it would take just 0.01% of the fertile population to satisfy demand.
This is a debate that has long interested me and simultaneously infuriated me.
Admittedly, it was a subject I didn’t know much about when I had my first child nine years ago. But when my second-born arrived in 2001, it was on my radar and my awareness increased.
As a mother, I understood the deep joy that came with having a baby. I was lucky: I had conceived easily and the pregnancies had run fairly smoothly.
To hold my own child brought so much joy: like every new parent, I felt as if my life was now complete. I was a mother and I couldn’t imagine not having them.
But there was a nagging at the back of my mind. What of the women who couldn’t fulfil their dream?
I wanted these women who were desperate for their own child to feel what I was lucky enough to have experienced. I wanted to donate my eggs.
The question of payment never entered my head. I recall being surprised that some countries did pay. This would be an altruistic act. Of course, there was an element of selfishness to it: I knew it would make me feel worthwhile. I wasn’t going to shout it from the rooftops or wear a t-shirt bearing the details of what I was doing, but perhaps there would be a small sense of smugness about my charitable act.
I began to research the procedure. I understood that there would be procedures to suppress the menstrual cycle, learned about the daily injections to increase egg production, the possible side effects of bleeding and infection, the scans, the internal examinations. I even knew there was a small risk of mortality if the ovaries were over stimulated.
But I was convinced this was the right thing to do. As far as I was concerned, it was the ultimate gift. I was keen to get started and, as the cut-off age for donating eggs is 35 I knew that I had limited time to get the process underway.
As I picked up the telephone to call a fertility clinic close to my home, I remember being simultaneously terrified and excited. Surely, knowing the shortage of donors, they would have me in the clinic for a consultation quickly?
I was amazed at the reaction. Initially, the woman with whom I had a conversation was pleased that there was a potential donor. She took basic details: name and age, whether or not I’d had children. She said someone would call me back.
No one did. A few weeks later, I made another call and explained again that I was interested in donating eggs. Again, there was a promise of a telephone call. It never came.
I was appalled. I made one more attempt: more promises. More broken promises: no phone call.
So much for third time lucky. It was the last call I made to the clinic. I’d two small children to look after and time ran out for me to do anything about donating eggs.
I was frustrated that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. But, more than that, I was disappointed that I had let down a woman who wanted her own baby. I could have helped her