WHEN YOUR FROZEN EGGS DON’T SURVIVE
Liz Ellwood had her eggs frozen in 2007, before vitrification was an option. She was 24 and had just found out she had cervical cancer. She always knew she would want kids one day but hadn’t been thinking about it in a serious way. When her doctor told her she wouldn’t be able to have kids in the future, she was devastated. She wanted the ability to make the choice when she was ready—just like everyone else. Although she was told egg freezing was still experimental, she tried the procedure in 2009. Unfortunately, her eggs did not survive the defrosting process.
Ellwood decided on egg donation and surrogacy and is thankful for it every day. “I have a daughter,” she says. “It doesn’t matter that she wasn’t born from my own eggs—she’s mine.” Ellwood is very grateful to the two women who made this possible: the egg donor and the surrogate. She and her business partner, Lisa Casselman, launched Fertility Match in Ottawa to help other women find surrogates and to advocate for women who wish to donate their eggs. Ellwood says there’s a misconception that it is illegal to be paid to donate your eggs in Canada. Although a woman can’t be paid directly, she can be reimbursed for expenses related to the donation process, such as groceries, prepared food and childcare. The overall cost varies, depending on whether or not both an egg donor and a surrogate are required, as well as clinic and legal fees, but it generally runs from $60,000 to $100,000. Ellwood also founded Fertile Future, a charity that has helped 530 Canadian women (including Cheryl Heykoop) preserve their fertility since 2007.