Egg Donor Patient Video: Sarah Esdaile

Sarah Esdaile, the Shady Grove Fertility UK Patient Liaison and successful patient herself, discusses why she chose the Shady Grove Fertility International Egg Donor Programme located in the U.S. rather than fertility centers closer to home.

Video Transcription (Show)

Sarah Esdaile: I’ve always wanted children more than anyone I know. We met quite late, I was in my late 30s, and we were trying straight away. We did a round of IVF and it failed. One feels very guilty on behalf of one’s partner. I used to look around in the streets and see women with three, four, five children and think “what is wrong with me?” I went to see my doctor and he said to me your eggs are shot, and you need to forget it or adopt or use donor eggs. And at that point, donor eggs felt so Jerry Springer to me, it wasn’t something I knew a lot about, so there was a huge long drumroll after that, where I tried around with my sister’s eggs, because I was very hooked on the genetic thing.

Amanda Segal, International Patient Liaison: Shady Grove Fertility, this is Amanda Segal, how can I help you?

Sarah Esdaile: And I called Amanda, at Shady Grove, the night that my IVF failed, and I was hysterical, besides myself, could barely string a sentence together, and she was so empathetic, and so positive, and so confident that I could have a child in a way that I have never experienced before. You know, all the injections and the tests and the flights and the choosing a donor, and all of those steps are secondary to the mental leap of going, I want a child and I’m going to step up that fight. So I identify with the state of despair in which I see a lot of couples and I have a huge urge to reassure them that this is their darkest moment. And I also really applaud them for having the courage to come and find out more about donor egg treatment.

The UK was very quickly ruled out by us as an option. There are laws about anonymity that mean that someone could walk up in 18 years’ time and say to my daughter, I am your biological mother. As a result, very few women want to donate their eggs and very few women want to receive eggs. And obviously there is a booming business in Spain – you have absolutely no information at all about the donor, also I am very pale skinned, so why set myself up with a darker skinned child than myself, um and finally I have quite a few friends who have been to Spain and who tell me there is a bit of a chaotic manana attitude there, which may be very charming in a tapas bar, but not necessarily when you are broken with fertility treatment. And the language barrier was of concern with me, I didn’t want to be going through such an important delicate process when the nuance of what I was saying was not being correctly understood.

Once one gets to the point of donor IVF, one has been bruised and I certainly wanted pastoral care as well as clinical excellence, Dr. Levy encompassed both of those things for me and for hundreds of patients, both in the states and all over the world. The statistics are extraordinary, if a little overwhelming, very very high success rates. They are very organized, they’re very rigorous. My nurse in America often get back to me quicker than my nurse in Harley Street did. They offer a Shared Risk Programme, which means once they accept you onto that programme, they are essentially putting their money where their mouth is and they have faith in your ability to get pregnant and have a child and they go through that journey with you, including the financial risk. And I found that very reassuring. There are only two visits to the states required, Washington’s a really great city to visit anyway,. Yeah, it’s a really overwhelming day, but a fantastic one because it means that when you go back for your embryo transfer, you’re not going into a strange place, and meeting strange people across the other side of the world. Um, so we had an hour WITH Michael Levy which is unheard of. I’ve never spent more than 5 or 10 minutes with an IVF doctor before that. My husband gave his sperm sample, Dr. Levy does a dummy embryo transfer so that there are no kind of surprises with your anatomy when you have the actual one. And we had a meeting with people about money, so that was all very transparent. A look at the donor database, somebody advising us through how one makes that very difficult choice. I wanted somebody educated at the college level, I wanted someone who looked faintly like me, I wanted to look into the eyes of my donor and know I could be your friend, you look warm and kind. Well it’s sort of – I’m gonna cry now, obviously – its extraordinary being a mom, and I honestly never thought I would be. And even though she’s 20 months old now, I still can’t believe I have her. And I feel like I had a very rich, fulfilled happy life before. But looking back now, it feels like a life in black and white and now it’s in Technicolor.

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