The kind act of a few eggs donated, restored joy and created thousands of “bouncing babies,” for women who otherwise would have almost lost hope trying to get pregnant.
Because she wanted to give this gift, 34-year-old Geneesha Persad-Johnson decided to become an egg donor five years ago. The happily married mother of onesaid her mind was made up after she saw a pop up ad from T&T IVF and Fertility Centre on her Facebook page asking for egg and sperm donors.
“I was a new mom at the time, still new enough to be sniffing my daughter Skylar, at every opportunity and getting all teary-eyed just thinking about how much I loved her. I figured if I could help a couple achieve their baby-making dreams and feel this kind of love, why wouldn’t I? So I called them and started the process,” Persad-Johnson said.
There was not a doubt in her mind about doing it.
“I had done my research and knew what the process entailed. It also helped a whole lot that the staff at Trinidad IVF was very helpful, patient, supportive and knowledgeable. They made sure I was comfortable every step of the way and answered any questions I had without hesitation,” she said.
So comfortable was Persad-Johnson with the process that she was a donor twice with the full support of her husband Kerwyn and family who knew and understood her thoughts and feelings on the subject.
Asked what she believed people should know about egg donation that might increase the number of donors, the Chaguanas native said: “I don’t think it’s for everyone. It does require you to detach from the idea that someone could be out there with your child. But once the eggs are donated, they’re not yours anymore.
“I didn’t mind that at all. I wasn’t planning to use the eggs. I’m perfectly okay with having one child. I saw an opportunity to help another couple conceive and know the joys of pregnancy and parenthood. It’s not the easiest process—there are daily medications, and needles involved—but it is completely worth it. I think if the idea appeals to someone at all, they should check it out. Make a call. Send an email. You may or may not go through with it, but it’s definitely worth looking into.”
According to the T&T IVF and Fertility Centre, there are many women who have no hope of pregnancy without donated eggs.
Medical director at the centre Catherine Minto-Bain said such women may have lost their eggs due to surgery, environmental problems, genetic causes, natural ageing or to treatment for cancer.
“Premature failure of the ovaries, where the periods stop early and there are no eggs left can be devastating and it can occur as early as the teenage years,” she explained.
Minto-Bain said in other cases, women may carry an inheritable genetic disorder that they do not want to pass on to their children.
Whatever the complication, she assures the gift of egg donation can make precious little miracles possible.
During Infertility Awareness Week, which was observed from April 21 to 27, the T&T IVF and Fertility Centre took the opportunity to highlight egg donation and its important role in reducing infertility.
The egg donation process involves several routine tests in which strict guidelines must be adhered to. Important considerations are the donor’s age, personal and family medical background and STI status. They must also be a non-smoker for at least three months and free from severe endometriosis, among other specifications.
Donating eggs is not painful and do not involve any surgery.
Minto-Bain explained that the first step of the same day procedure involves growing some eggs by having a daily injection for eight-12 days prior and ultrasound scans every three to four days. When eggs are well grown, they are collected by a gentle procedure involving a needle passing through the vaginal wall into the ovary. This process takes 30 minutes or less and is done under sedation. About two weeks later, the donor’s menstrual cycle will return.
Though the gift of helping to create a life is worth much more than any amount of money, Minto-Bain said a donor is also paid $8,000 per donation. She was also quick to point out that the identities of recipients are not revealed to donors and likewise, donors remain anonymous to recipients.
“We keep safely protected records on all people donating and receiving eggs. At all times these records will be kept confidential and anonymous. In the future should any child born as a result of egg donation, ask for identifying information this will not be given, however, we will be able to confirm or deny any potential genetic relationship to a partner,” Minto-Bain said.