‘I do­nated my eggs to a stranger’

Four years ago, Charly Suggett, 28, de­cided to give an in­fer­tile cou­ple the chance at hav­ing a child. This is her story…

Grazia (UK) - - Contents -

Most 25-year- olds dread their first smear test: young, ter­ri­fied and, in many cases, ex­per i en c ing an in­cred­i­bly in­tru­sive pro­ce­dure for the first time. But I was re­laxed about mine. That’s be­cause, a year ear­lier, I lay back ner­vously in a hospi­tal op­er­at­ing the­atre, hitched my legs into stir­rups and un­der­went anaes­the­sia to have some of my eggs re­moved so I could do­nate them to strangers.

I didn’t do it af­ter watch­ing a rel­a­tive strug­gle to con­ceive or be­cause I was of­fered a fi­nan­cial re­ward. It’s il­le­gal in the UK to pay some­one for do­nat­ing their eggs, apart from com­pen­sat­ing them for time off work. I got £750 in to­tal. I did it be­cause I woke up one day with the urge to give some­thing to some­one – which, in turn, might help to give my life a bit more mean­ing. You might find it strange that, at 24, I chose egg do­na­tion. I could have vol­un­teered at a soup kitchen or kept an el­derly per­son com­pany. But I knew it had to be some­thing big­ger.

I’d just moved to Lon­don and was feel­ing un­ful­filled in a bor­ing re­tail job. The idea first popped into my mind when I was par­tic­u­larly down one night. I thought the best thing I could do was make sure some­one else felt plea­sure in their life. De­spite hav­ing a happy up­bring­ing, I lost my dad at 11 and I wanted to be able to help some­one grow up in a happy fam­ily home.

I be­gan re­search and pored over the over­whelm­ing de­tails of what it would in­volve: pump­ing my body with hor­mones for four months, an in­va­sive op­er­a­tion, adult acne and no sex through­out, as I’d be ex­tremely fer­tile. Un­de­terred, I sent off my ap­pli­ca­tion form. I was asked to delve into the dark­est cor­ners of my per­sonal life and men­tal health on a ques­tion­naire and, when I passed, I was in­vited for an ap­point­ment with a spe­cial­ist at the Har­ley Street clinic I’d signed up to. This meet­ing re­ally tested my met­tle: I was told the child could look me up and con­tact me when they turned 18. Could I re­ally face a young adult who I helped cre­ate want­ing to be part of my life? How would I feel if the child was a boy who grew up to look ex­actly like my dad? And what if my egg cre­ated a child but, for what­ever rea­son, in later life I wasn’t able to con­ceive my­self ? Would I be an­gry? Bit­ter? Sad? These were ques­tions I didn’t know the an­swers to. But I knew that I still wanted to go ahead with it.

Within two weeks, I was linked to a cou­ple who had viewed my pro­file and de­cided I suited their ‘ex­pec­ta­tions of fu­ture off­spring’. Be­fore I knew it, I was shar­ing my men­strual cy­cle with the anony­mous wo­man so we could syn­chro­nise our pe­ri­ods to pre­pare her womb for an em­bryo cre­ated from one of my eggs. I did this for six months. It’s a pro­ce­dure not too dis­sim­i­lar to IVF. I was given hor­mone in­jec­tions dur­ing each ap­point­ment to stim­u­late egg pro­duc­tion, and un­der­went in­ter­nal ul­tra­sounds.

But I fo­cused on the end re­sult: I was go­ing to give a cou­ple the great­est gift of all.

As our cy­cles synced, I started in­ject­ing my­self with the hor­mones ev­ery day. I fum­bled with the needles, bruis­ing my­self badly and con­stantly hav­ing to nav­i­gate new patches of skin. My hor­mones were through the roof, I de­vel­oped se­vere acne and was rest­less and ag­i­tated at work. This went on for over two months. By now, ev­ery­one in my fam­ily and at work knew and were very sup­port­ive.

Fi­nally, our cy­cles were syn­chro­nised to the day and I was in the op­er­at­ing the­atre ready to have my eggs ex­tracted. With my legs in the air while five medics buzzed around my groin, I felt ter­ri­fied and vul­ner­a­ble, but never once re­gret­ted my de­ci­sion.

I was un­con­scious for the pro­ce­dure but was very ten­der for a few days af­ter. I felt a deep, throb­bing pain ev­ery time I coughed. It was strange mak­ing my way home from the hospi­tal; my mum came to help but I was in a world of my own. Could this be a new be­gin­ning for two com­plete strangers? I felt pos­i­tive and ex­cited. A few months later, though, I found out from the clinic that my do­nated eggs hadn’t re­sulted in a preg­nancy.

I’d set out to do some­thing. I’d made it my mis­sion. But af­ter hear­ing this news, I was back to feel­ing in­ad­e­quate again. I had so badly wanted to help and, de­spite know­ing it wasn’t my fault, I felt I had failed mis­er­ably. I’m 28 now and haven’t do­nated since, but it crosses my mind reg­u­larly. I work in fash­ion and spend my days fuss­ing over shoes and hand­bags. Dream­ing about a suc­cess­ful do­na­tion gives me a sense of pur­pose.

I still plan to have kids of my own one day, but I’m in no rush. If I have a suc­cess­ful do­na­tion, I’ll def­i­nitely tell my fu­ture part­ner and chil­dren. How­ever long it takes, I want to try again un­til I get that happy end­ing for some­one out there.

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