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30-year-old Kerri shared every aspect of the process with us – from why she did it to how it affected her, the health risks and the pay she didn’t know you got.
Most women have probably never even considered donating their eggs – and neither had Kerri, 30, until she saw an advert for it on a London tube.
“To be honest, I didn’t even know that you could donate eggs,” she told Cosmopolitan UK. But the curiosity got the better of her and, after weeks of playing on her mind, she googled the London clinic advertised on the underground, eager to know more.
“I’m not really very maternal at all, so for me it was a way I could help someone else have a child without me having the child. I thought that was quite interesting, so I made an appointment,” she said.
It might sound a little rash, spotting an advert on public transport and subsequently agreeing to undergo a hefty proportion of the IVF process for entirely selfless reasons. But for Kerri, there was a bit more to it.
“My dad is a temporary foster carer for babies, so he looks after children up to the age of two who come from homes where the parents aren’t treating them right. I find this so hard to see when I’ve got close friends who are really struggling to fall pregnant. I just wanted to help those people who really want to have children but otherwise couldn’t.”
And so the process began. But what stuck out to Kerri more than anything else was the lack of information online detailing what she was about to undergo. Of course the clinic had given her thorough details, but she wanted to hear first-hand experiences from other women who had been through the same thing – and they were few and far between. So she set up a Twitter account and tweeted the entire process.
It all started with an initial consultation:
Here I am. Wednesday morning 8.30am – I’m meeting someone to see if I would be a suitable candidate to donate.
Didn’t even realise it’s #womensday too. How fitting ☺️
I must admit it’s a little strange in the waiting room of a sperm bank. The man opposite me is going to have a wank in a minute 🙋🏼 HIYA!
Ok so that was actually not as bad as I expected. Lovely lady there talked me through everything that would happen. Legal wise and procedure
There was a LOT of paperwork, which was fine, mostly about my health, me as a person and any family illnesses that exist.
The only thing that could throw this whole thing out is that I take sertraline for anxiety. Let’s hope I can still proceed.
And after a scan just one week later, she got the news that they could proceed:
So just had my scan… internal 🙈 was absolutely fine. So interesting! My nurse was Brenda, she showed me my womb, my ovaries and follicles
27 on my right ovary but only 12 on my left. Left ovary was hard to find ☺️ little rascal! Next stop upstairs to see the doctor 👌🏻
Doc says all good, ran through a lot of the stuff I’ve already been told about by the other lady. Just have to give some blood then to work!
Two weeks later, the papers were signed and three months after that, the procedure was underway. The delay, Kerri told Cosmopolitan UK, was because “you have to get your cycle right. I travel a lot for work internationally, so I kept getting my period when I was abroad”:
Scan done, ready to bleed. Now waiting for the nurse to say if we can start the injections today. Hopefully so 😊
Bloods done. Next job injections. pic.twitter.com/uzOBTiibqa
Fecking hell. Injecting myself in the stomach is slightly more intense than I thought. Have to inject every night until Monday now.
Here’s my small bag of needles and drugs pic.twitter.com/knSxF0rBvv
Made it through the first day no problems. Think it feels like my period is coming, nothing abnormal otherwise 👌🏻
Ok so today has been fine, mild period pain but nothing major. Just injected for today. Much better on my own and now I know what to expect
So this is what the pen looks like pic.twitter.com/KXjjnFoHJL
And this is the tiny mark left when you remove the needle. pic.twitter.com/IiECqNNoc9
Kerri shared details on Twitter about how she was feeling and any changes she noticed in her body throughout the process. “The bloating and discomfort was only for a week, so it was just like having a really heavy period bloat, really,” she told us. “The only other thing I noticed was that, after having had no hair regrowth for a couple of years due to laser hair removal, all the hair all came back. It was because of the hormones”:
So injected totally fine this morning, worryingly getting easy! Light period, bloating but nothing major.
Woke up feeling a little more bloated today. Getting weirdly used to injecting, drinking lots of fluids still no alcohol though 🤗
Actually I’ve had a bit of a full headache for a day or two but don’t know if it’s related as I alwaaaaays have it in the summer.
Also I’ve had a bit of a lack of appetite but again, might just be coincidental. Making sure I eat as much as poss though as need good eggs!
Gaaaaaaaahd I am tired. I don’t know if it’s because of my body doing all the stuff but I’m definitely more tired than usual 😴
It’s been actively noted by others that I’m eating way more chocolate than I used to, considering I rarely do normally 😏
Oh and my nails are growing like crazy 💅🏼
After days of injecting herself with hormones, a scan revealed it had paid off and Kerri had been growing plenty of egg sacks in preparation for donation:
So I’ve been growing egg sacks… ready to generate the eggs 🥚 this is so exciting! 🐔 pic.twitter.com/DY2InqaSfD
Sacks are growing! 39 sacks, need to grow a little more before they’re ready. Scan again Saturday ☺️ pic.twitter.com/LsznuvOukP
The sacks kept growing and, by July, Kerri was ready to have surgery to collect her eggs:
Tuesday is egg collection day. To Harley Street for 7am. I’m actually beginning to feel nervous about it all for the first time.
Ok so this morning I am feeling like a fucking house. I’ve gone from flat stomach to this. Anddddddd it’s increasing. pic.twitter.com/MI8ZJEk0eN
This time tomorrow I’ll be coming round from the op. Potentially changing so many lives. I just keep thinking about that 🤗
I feel uncomfortable as hell. I’m sat with my jeans undone under my desk. Can’t really focus. Have a simple brain today 😬
If I would describe how I feel right now… you know when hummus is like a day off and it’s a little fizzy? That’s how I feel.
Ovaries are a new level of ache today. Nil by mouth since midnight… I’m really nervous now but not sure which part I’m nervous about.
I’m incredibly tired. Looking forward to coming home and resting for sure.
What I’ve learnt this morning is sitting down too fast really hurts my ovaries.
While it sounds like I’m just whining, I totally 100% am all about doing this, I’m just trying to be as honest as possible.
The surgery went well, and 16 of Kerri’s eggs were collected:
Doc just came to see me, 16 eggs collected ☺️ Now to recover with a tea & biscuits.
Packed off with a load of paperwork and a box of chocolates (bit odd but I’ll be eating them anyway!) pic.twitter.com/zgro0gUl59
The recovery from surgery had some unexpected complaints:
My vagina hurts. Going to sleep and hoping tomorrow is better. Still pretty bloated and sore but feels like it all happened so long ago.
Actually the best thing to describe it is like I can’t clench my pelvic floor muscles very well. Like they’re sleeping 🤦🏼♀️ if I really
Absolutely no bleeding which is good, they said most people do but hasn’t been an issue for me so pleased about that.
But the next day, she was back at work:
Walking to work is a more painful event than expected. Every footstep I can feel in my ovaries which is just weird tbh
Totally has been weird. I’ve been really hit and miss. I keep getting dizzy spells and a feeling of unbalance… then I’m fine.
Had a beautiful bunch of flowers sent to me today 💜 Had the loveliest messages from surprising people. Been such a wonderful journey 👍🏻 pic.twitter.com/i3iAMHEjOP
And then, nine months later, Kerri received an email to tell her there was an ongoing pregnancy using one of her eggs:
Can’t believe I forgot to update this… so EXCELLENT NEWS 🤰🏼👶🏼 #Pregnancy #EggDonationUK Happy to discuss if any Journos are interested in my donation story. pic.twitter.com/aEGEQ57JGf
“When they sent me an email saying there was a pregnancy in progress I was so happy I cried,” Kerri told Cosmopolitan UK. “I was so pleased. I was so relieved that everything I did was worth it.”
Currently, the woman carrying the baby created from Kerri’s egg and her own husband’s sperm is almost at the end of her pregnancy, and Kerri says she’ll feel relieved when the baby is born. “They have to tell me the month the baby is born and the sex, and that’s it,” she explained. “I just want to know when it’s born. As soon as that baby is born, I’ll feel like everything I did was worthwhile. When I know the baby is in the world with loving parents, I feel like that will be the end of the process”
But it might not be the end of the process. The family Kerri’s eggs ended up being donated to took 8 of her 16 eggs, while the other 8 went elsewhere. With no guarantees that IVF will work every time, Kerri says she’d be willing to donate for the family again in future if they needed her to, “so that their child could have biological siblings”.
“I said I was happy to donate as many times as they need to have the family that they want,” Kerri said.
Health risks of donating eggs appear to be few and far between, with Kerri telling us the main one is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which is a rare but potentially severe condition. OHSS occurs when fertility medication causes too many eggs to develop in the ovaries, making them become very large and painful.
“I didn’t know you got paid this money until a couple of weeks in and they asked for my bank details”
Thankfully, Kerri didn’t suffer OHSS, and – actually – the only surprise to her about the whole thing came in the form of the £750 cheque she received afterwards. It’s illegal to sell body parts in the UK, meaning you’re not allowed to sell your eggs, but Kerri was surprised to learn she would be reimbursed £750 worth of expenses for the procedure she had undergone.
“I didn’t even know that you got paid this money until a couple of weeks in and they asked for my bank details,” Kerri said. “I was like, ‘what am I paying for?’ And they said, ‘no, we pay you!'”
The money is intended to cover the cost of any travel to and from the clinic, as well as the fact you have to take a day off work to have the surgery done, so it covers any loss of earnings there.
For Kerri, the reason she believes she found the experience of egg donation so straight-forward is because she doesn’t have any maternal feelings herself. She is unlikely to have her own children in future and, for that reason, she’s managed to remain quite detached the whole way through.
“For me, the [pregnant] woman is the mother. She carries that baby for 9 months, she gives birth to that baby. Of course, DNA wise it is my child, but I don’t really think about it like that because I’m never going to see it. I’ve not carried it and I’ve not had anything to do with it whatsoever, so I feel quite removed from it.
“I just feel like I’ve given them the tools they need to make their journey to becoming a family.”
1. Approximately 10,000 babies a year are born worldwide from the procedure, and demand continues to grow as more women and couples are deciding to start a family later in life.
2. Women who donate their eggs are required to be between the age of 18 and 35, and must pass a number of health tests to ensure they are not carrying any serious diseases or medical conditions which could be passed on to the baby and/or mother.
3. The retrieval procedure lasts just 10 minutes, and takes place under general anaesthesia. A hollow needle attached to an ultrasound probe is passed through the top of the vagina and guided towards the ovaries. Light suction on the needle will aspirate all the liquid within each follicle, and in that liquid is the egg.
4. Egg donors can continue with their normal life during the hormone injection phase and will only need to rest on the day of the egg collection.
5. It is illegal to pay for egg donation in the UK but egg donors can receive compensation per donation cycle to cover their travel, accommodation or childcare costs.
6. Since 2005, all donors in the UK are required to sign a register containing their contact details. Babies born as a result of egg donation are allowed to access information about their donor when they turn 18.
7. Donors will not have any legal responsibility for the children they produce.
You can read all Kerri’s tweets about her egg donating experience on her Twitter page here.
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