Archive for the ‘Egg Donation’ Category
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
Today, we’re sharing the journey of one intended mom’s journey through infertility. She describes her struggle to overcome the many obstacles and set backs, but also her eventual victory – she is now pregnant with twins!
Two to five percent.
That was the chance I was given from my reproductive endocrinologist to be able to conceive using my own eggs. I can’t tell you how it felt to receive that phone call. I was in shock and devastated. I saw all the things I had dreamed about – birthday parties, holidays, weddings – vanish into thin air.
My husband and I had just sat down with the MD that morning and everything from tests and surgical procedures had gone well with no giant red flag. But that morning my labs were drawn to check my FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) level. My diagnosis was diminished ovarian reserve.
We decided to try IVF, knowing the odds were not in our favor. We had gotten pregnant on our own almost a year prior but I miscarried at 12 weeks. We had thought that since I conceived the first time we would have no issues. This, of course, was not the case. The IVF cycle only produced one fertilized egg and no pregnancy.
How could this be? I thought we had done all the right things. We waited until we were financially ready and in a good position to start our family, and now we were not able to. I felt like a failure. I saw everyone around me pregnant or already with children. I did not attend baby showers or kids’ birthday parties because I knew someone would ask (like they always do) when are you having children?
Infertility is a diagnosis that, in my opinion, is worse than other health issues. Why? Because there is very little treatment for it and it such a private matter to struggle with. Men may want to hide things in fear that people will think it is “his” malfunction. Women are usually more open with their struggles. Some women, not knowing what to say, will pacify you and say things like “it will happen when you least expect it” or “it only takes one.” There is very little recognition about infertility issues.
After the first IVF cycle failed, I realized I could keep beating my head against the wall, continue with increased dosages of medications and spend more money, or I could try something different. I began to research egg donor programs and eventually talked with my husband about using donor eggs. He is one of those secretive guys who doesn’t want anyone to know anything about our issues. I told him that the child would genetically be half him and half the donor, but I would still be able to carry the child/children. To my surprise, he said yes. The year had been hell for us and if there was any chance we could conceive a baby (even if it wasn’t genetically mine) he was for it. He just wanted us to be “normal” again. For a year, it felt that my whole life was about going to doctors, injecting medications, and taking tests that never yielded the result I wanted.
When we did decide that by using donor eggs we could drastically increase our chances of a baby, we had no idea where to turn. We discussed using a donor with our RE, who did have a donor program. But when they gave us a book of profiles, there were only 5 – none of whom I felt I had a connection with or who looked like me. I scouted out a few the RE recommended donor agencies and I was not happy. There are so many places with horrible reviews, and I even saw potential lawsuits against others.
And then, I found one company without any negative reviews and that had been in business for years. So I called ConceiveAbilities and spoke with Alicia. I cannot tell you how great it was to talk with or receive an email from someone available during the weekend or at night – I felt like the staff always went above and beyond to make me feel less anxious about the process.
I used their online database, which had a lot of women who looked like “normal” people and not someone using their modeling head shots. I wanted the impossible someone who looked like me, who was smart, and just a good person. A little hard to actually feel these qualities through the computer screen! We found a donor who shared similar characteristics like hair color, eye color and height. She has a college degree, which was important to me. We saw pictures not just of her but also of her family, which gave us an inside glimpse into how she was raised and her family life.
And this is where ConceiveAbilities works their magic. They were actually very informed about the donor I found, and advised me that yes, she would be a great match. I can’t say enough about my egg donor. I wanted to feel a connection with the person who would play such an important part of my life, This was very important, even if it is anonymous. I sent a card for her, and our case manager Kristin said, “that’s funny – your donor mailed us a card to send to you!” She even sent a card after her procedure. I could not have had this connection to my donor – which I think made this whole process so much more personal — if it was not for ConceiveAbilities. It is a lot of money to spend, and you are putting it into the hands of someone you will never meet, but ConceiveAbilities helped me find my dream donor. I am currently pregnant with twins.
Infertility is a nightmare that can take everything out of you physically, emotionally and financially. I am so happy that even though I may not have taken the path that I had originally intended, I am now back to my normal life and my dreams have come true. None of this would not be possible without my donor and ConceiveAbilities.
Thursday, April 18th, 2013
One of the most commonly asked questions we’re asked from potential egg donors – aside from “does it hurt?” – is if it will impact their own fertility in the future. My Health News Daily is reporting a new study that shows women who donate their eggs aren’t harming their own chances of becoming pregnant.
The Belgian study found that out of 60 women who had donated eggs, 54 became pregnant within a year of trying to conceive. Three more women became pregnant within 18 months of trying. 57 of the women conceived naturally, while the remaining three became pregnant with the help of fertility treatments. Interestingly, two of these women needed treatment due to male factor fertility issues. Researchers did note that there were limitations to the study – generally, egg donors don’t have fertility issues of their own to start. 16 percent of the women did report changes in their menstrual cycle after donating their eggs, but none of them reported infertility problems.
We always encourage women who are considering egg donation to thoroughly research the procedure and discuss medical concerns with their doctor. While no medical procedure is without some inherent risk, this study provides truly positive reinforcement to the generosity of these women.
Monday, March 4th, 2013
ConceiveAbilities was thrilled to be part of The Donor Egg Meeting, held in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina, this past weekend.
For three days, the Charleston Place Hotel hosted a symposium focused on the innovative new technology, legal aspects, and and psychological techniques as it relates to egg donation. More than 150 reproductive endocrinologists, lab professionals, nurses, mental health professionals, and attorneys attended a series of presentations and roundtables designed to maximize success in IVF specifically related to third party reproduction.
It was an honor to be in attendance and discuss ConceiveAbilities’ role in such a unique field.
From a carriage ride through the historic “Holy City” to a jazz brunch to enjoying delectable local fare – shrimp and grits, oysters, and pecan pie, among the favorites – we truly enjoyed the opportunity to connect with our colleagues, both old and new, in such a charming locale.
Monday, February 25th, 2013
ConceiveAbilities is pleased to announce our participation at The Donor Egg Meeting in Charleston, South Carolina, and will be exhibiting at this annual event from February 28th through March 3rd. We look forward to connecting with renowned endocrinologists, residents, lab professionals, nurses, and mental health professionals at this symposium focusing on the the technology of oocyte donation and third party reproduction. If you are attending, we hope you will stop by our booth in the exhibition hall to discuss the exciting growth of our egg donor program, now in its 17th year.
Wednesday, January 30th, 2013
ConceiveAbilities founder Nazca Fontes was recently interviewed as part of WebTalkRadio’s series “In Search of Fertility.” While discussing the importance of finding an agency you can trust as well as the general realities of the egg donation process, she offered some of the key insight she has gained in 17 years of running one of the nation’s top egg donor agencies.
Monday, January 21st, 2013
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
While these may not be Martin Luther King, Jr.’s most famous words, on this particular celebration of his life we find them especially poignant. The fact that it coincides with Inauguration Day makes it all the more relevant.
As this administration starts its second term, we reflect on successes and challenges of the past four years. We have seen witnessed heated debates on issues like women’s healthcare, gay rights, and same-sex marriage equality. Our nation has faced frustration and tragedy beyond comprehension. And together, we move forward. We keep going, exploring new ideas, proposing new laws, enacting new policies, all in the hope that these actions will make us the stronger nation we strive to be. Though it’s difficult to see the end result now, we take those first steps.
Weighing decisions like egg donation and surrogacy – whether it’s as an intended parent, a donor, or a surrogate – require a similar faith. And it’s doesn’t have to be a leap. Baby steps, so to speak, are what bring you to what will ultimately be the best option for you. Research, exploration, and education are the tools to do that. Venturing into the unknown is scary, but trust that you will ultimately find an answer that gives you hope and peace. At ConceiveAbilities, we applaud you for taking the first step and are here to guide you along your way.
Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
When it comes to infertility and ART, awareness is essential for everyone involved. And clearly, it needs to become an international effort. The attitude toward egg donation – and assisted reproductive technology in general – has always been a bit different in the UK. Unlike in the US, where databases of prospective donors have grown, over the past few years we’ve watched as a variety of new legislation and compensation guidelines have been introduced in an attempt to draw women to egg donation in the UK. Typically, UK donors do not receive the same level of compensation as in the US, if they are compensated at all. It is generally viewed as an “altruistic” act, and while we agree that egg donation is an amazing act of generosity, it is also a significant commitment both physically and emotionally. Donors should be compensated for that level of commitment, as becoming an egg donor is time consuming, inconvenient, often uncomfortable, and requires quite a bit of effort!
More recently, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the UK’s fertility regulator, has been trying new tactics to drum up interest in egg donation. They are launching a new drive to encourage gamete donors by comparing it to something like blood donation. To us, this comparison seems misguided – and almost cavalier considering their previous attitude.
Reputable agencies and organizations tasked with guiding participants through this process are diligent in educating prospective donors as to the level of commitment and risks associated with this very generous act. Also, in our experience, for a woman to make this commitment it is important for her to have an understanding of who is on the other side. We’ve found that so many of the egg donors we work with first became interested in participating after witnessing a friend or family member struggling with infertility. “I want to help someone like her/him,” we often hear. “If I have the ability to help them have a family, I want to do it.”
It’s clear to us that most donors are already participating for altruistic reasons. But by comparing this very intimate decision to donating blood, it takes away from the profound impact of egg donation. Not only should she be compensated for the time and effort in providing this generous gift, she should have a full understanding of its magnitude. Awareness is truly a must for everyone involved in third party reproduction.
Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Full circle. That is the way Jennifer Wolf, Director of Case Management at ConceiveAbilities, describes her experience with her own fertility. Her role as an egg donor, case manager, and now a mom have brought a new level of awareness when it comes to infertility and the misconceptions surrounding the issue.
In 2000, while in her first job out of college, she became close with a coworker and his wife. She had been diagnosed with a medical condition that affected her ability to conceive, and after trying a long time to have children, they shared that they were considering using an egg donor. Their struggle struck a chord with Jennifer for several reasons, but in particular because his wife was younger than she was.
“They were instrumental in introducing the concept to me,” she recalls. While having a family was not yet on the horizon for her and the boyfriend that would eventually become her husband, Jennifer felt that if she could help someone else use something she wasn’t, then why not?
“I knew I couldn’t help my friends, but all along they were key in my wanting to do this,” she says. “It made it very real and more personal. Their plight, their age, their circumstance helped from an altruistic standpoint,” Jennifer recalls. After seeing an ad for ConceiveAbilities in the Chicago publication The Reader, she completed the application. “I thought I wouldn’t get selected,” Jennifer admits. “I was pleasantly surprised to get a call.”
The idea quickly became a reality when she went in for an initial consult. “Alicia impressed the heck out of me,” Jennifer says. “Instead of making the process seem idilic, Alicia focused on things like flexibility, side effects, potential discomfort – she was very realistic about it.”
Sometimes, donors find they get a different perspective from the medical entity. A center may rely on the agency to take a more proactive role in educating a donor, and the agency has to hit it home. “You’re not just walking in and out, like donating blood,” Jennifer points out. “I went home and really reflected on it.”
Once she had learned more about the program and the intended parents looking for donors, she decided it would be “an absolute honor” to be selected. To her delight, Jennifer was matched with recipients – twice. The experience was so amazing the first time around, she says, that when she was approached again she didn’t think twice. “It will forever remain in my heart as a positive thing,” she says.
After spending many years social service, Jennifer found another opportunity to work with the Illinois egg donation program at ConceiveAbilities – this time, as a case manager. Now 35 and married, Jennifer and her husband Kevin began to explore the idea of building their family. And, as is the case for so many, it didn’t happen as quickly as they expected.
But what it did bring to the forefront was an inkling of what some of the clients she works with were going through. Month after month, the recurring disappointment began to weigh on her.
“There were so many times I was really convinced it had happened,” she recalls. And when it hadn’t, “I would just sob. Not after years of disappointment, invasive procedures – just a tiny degree of what intended parents go through.”
In fact, she remembers a new feeling when working with clients. “I would get so disappointed and frustrated internally when things didn’t work for them.” Prior to this, she had naturally related more to the donor. She had always been able to empathize with intended parent, but didn’t have that extra insight. “It exceeds that,” she recognizes, “but having that glimpse of heartache helped me to see what it means to them.”
And she was even more grateful than ever for her experience as a donor, because it gave her a true education on fertility. She had learned so much about ovulation and cycles during the process that without it, “It would have made family planning even more of a Russian Roulette.”
Jennifer also recalls feeling some relief that she hadn’t told many people about her previous egg donations.
“People leap to the notion,” that egg donation will somehow effect a woman’s future fertility, she says. “It’s just ignorance to scientific facts, but it’s such a common and ridiculous notion. Truthfully, it didn’t cross my mind. If anything, I thought it was because of my age.”
After trying for just under a year – which, she understands, seems like a minute period of time when dealing with longterm infertility – Jennifer and her husband talked to their doctor. They learned fairly quickly that there was no “issue,” it just hadn’t happened yet. “It’s extraordinary for a pregnancy even to occur,” naturally or via ART, she says, and she felt “it’s going to happen – or not – despite the various attempts I implemented to increase our chances.”
In November 2010, Jennifer and Kevin welcomed their son Harrison into the world. Being a donor, the experience building her own family, and now being a mom has “brought things full circle for me,” Jennifer says. “I have a whole new level of respect for the people who are in this but can see a light at the end of the tunnel.”
It’s even changed the way she helps a client deal with heartache – while always supporting them in any decision they make for future, knowing they truly want to keep trying to achieve their family building goals. “I provide supportive encouragement because I know how amazing the end result is,” she explains. “It’s blissful. I want that for them.”
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Friday, April 6th, 2012
As we prepare for Infertility Awareness Week later this month, we’re more in tune than ever to the recent scrutiny of ART. We’ve watched, a bit from afar, as the battle for women’s health rights – and, in turn, defending access to ART – wages around the country. With our main offices in Illinois and Colorado, two states that are quite progressive and accessible when it comes to IVF, we are at an advantage. It’s always been important for us to keep in perspective that not all parts of the country are as “friendly” toward the technology.
This reality hit close to home recently, when Reproductive Endocrinologist Dr. Randy Morris made plans to open a fertility clinic in Naperville, Illinois. The upper-middle class town of 140,000 about 45 minutes outside of Chicago is home to many families, college students, and young professionals. It seems an appropriate place to open a clinic that would help build families. After obtaining initial approval from Naperville’s City Council, and completing zoning and other necessary paperwork, the path was clear to proceed.
Until the personhood movement got involved in an attempt to shut it all down.
A City Council meeting on Tuesday ran for nearly 3 hours with more than 50 residents speaking up on both sides. Activists, many of them members of a Naperville Catholic parish, criticized the city and the plan it was approving. Claiming a matter of human dignity, Reverend Thomas Milota said, “Those embryos that have not been implanted also have value and worth.”
Pro-Life Action League member Eric Scheidler went so far as to tell the council, “Human life is being cheapened through the practice of IVF.”
The possibility of protesting outside the future clinic was brought up. Which raises an ironic image – people protesting for human life. In front of a clinic that helps build families.
While Milota says his concerns are more practical and are unconnected to the personhood movement, the fact remains that these groups are infringing on the right to make a responsible and well-informed decision about reproductive options. The decision to use ART, and in turn, what to do with the resulting embryos, is a private, very personal issue between patient and doctor.
An ethical clinic provides education to their patients and follows strict regulations – these practices are in place for a reason. We support the growth of these clinics and were pleased to see that, in the end, the Naperville City Council voted 7-2 in favor of the Naperville Family Building Center. Not the Naperville Fertility Center, its original name.
While a healthy dose of debate keeps the issue of ethical fertility treatment at the forefront, it’s important that the choice remains an accessible option for intended parents trying to build a family.
Tuesday, February 14th, 2012
To us, it’s no small coincidence that National Donor Day also falls on Valentine’s Day. We witness one of the greatest acts of love someone can give to another on a daily basis – and, more likely than not, it’s to someone they’ve never met. In what can be an inconvenient, time-consuming process, the women who donate their eggs are giving the ultimate gift of love.
One of our fantastic donors, who has participated in the process three times, put it this way: “I believe every person who desires to be a parent, who will love and cherish a little one, deserves to be one. I would love to help give someone the miracle of parenthood I have been so blessed to have.”
The women who are part of our program, as both Illinois egg donors and gestational surrogates, truly do represent another level of love and human kindness. We are proud to celebrate you today, but are grateful every day for your generous hearts. Thank you!