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Monday, October 19, 2009

Why donor eggs in Thailand - answers here!!

So – finally I have come to the reason that we decided to go to Thailand to have a donor egg cycle. It has been very complicated but also very simple. On the simple side of things, we were running out of options and this seemed like the natural next step, on the complicated side – well, that’s a big story.

In the chain of events, I had had IVF cycle #4 in July 2008 and after the failure of that cycle, I had a Lap Band placed in September 2008. We didn’t go back to the Fertility Specialist until around October because I wanted to leave a good amount of time so that I would be thinking clearly when we went to see him. I wanted to discuss a laparoscopy. I have always had painful periods – sometimes so painful that I have ended up at the hospital. I have always had a very heavy flow and (TMI ahead) have always found it painful to have a bowel movement.

The weird thing is, I had never talked about this stuff with anyone, so I thought it was completely normal. My mum knew of my painful periods because she had taken me to the hospital when I was young. I had never seen a gynecologist. I had always had normal pap smears and a very regular cycle so there really was no thought given to anything being wrong. I have to be honest and say that I had always thought that I had endometriosis but I didn’t get anything done about it because I didn’t think that you could.

Anyway, I did want to talk to the fertility specialist about a laparoscopy and after a discussion with JourneyMan, we wanted to put vasectomy reversal back on the agenda – the main reason being that since I was getting around 1 embryo a cycle, we would do just as well to see if the vasectomy could be successfully reversed. After speaking to the Fertility Specialist about all of these options, he agreed that it was a good plan going forward so after 4 IVF cycles, I went in for a laparoscopy in November 2008. The laparoscopy revealed high incidence of endo which the doc cleaned out but some couldn’t be fixed because it was on a major vein of the uterus and he didn’t want to damage it. In this operation, he still thought that my uterus was bicornuate.

In December 2008, JourneyMan had his vasectomy reversed (he is going to do a post about his experience of that). He was pretty good and didn’t really whinge – all along he said that he would have the reversal and he was true to his word – it couldn’t have been fun – though I tell you, the laparoscopy was not a barrel of laughs either. I started getting very bad pain in January and after seeing the Fertility Specialist again in March – I had another laparoscopy. This was when my uterine abnormality was rediagnosed as a unicornuate uterus – with a non-communicative horn. I immediately started researching what this meant and it didn’t look good – I started to face the possibility that not only may I not be able to have my own biological child but also not even be able to carry a child in my deformed uterus. Thankfully at my next appointment my specialist said that my main uterus was should be sizable enough to be able to carry a pregnancy, it wasn’t far off full size though the endo was going to keep coming back because it was the non-communicative horn that was emptying into my body each month that was causing it.

From January to May, I was focused on weight loss and (with a lack of something to research) I also started to look at other alternatives available – such as donor eggs and surrogacy in countries other than my own. JourneyMan was focused on getting his swimmers back. Some hopeful corners of my heart still held out a cherished wish that we could somehow become pregnant through natural means so every month when my period turned up, my heart hurt a little more.

We went back to see the Fertility Specialist in May and found that JourneyMan’s sperm contained antibodies and there were very few with forward moving motility. It is hard to explain how I felt at this time – I guess I was really numb – even though we hadn’t even had a cycle in months and months and months, we seemed to have been dealt blow after blow. When I told my friends (not long ago) about my uterine disfigurement and JourneyMan’s sperm antibdies and no forward motility, they laughed. It wasn’t malicious in any way, just disbelief I guess but it still seared through me and even though there is some part of me that thinks that it is amusing in a ‘murphy’s law’ type way, I don’t really feel like laughing. Maybe I will when ‘it all works out and I have a baby in my arms’ but for the moment I feel more like crying than laughing.

So – now we finally get to ‘Why Thailand?’ Well, in Australia it is illegal to pay a donor (egg or sperm) for their services. Most clinics have a waiting list for donor eggs that are around 3 years – some don’t even accept people on their list anymore because of the waiting time. Generally, people who need donor eggs in Australia are forced into two routes:

1. A friend or family member
2. Advertising for a donor

I had a few people offer me their services – my sister-in-law was a genuine candidate though she has just turned 40 last week and now she is not in the position to do it anyway. My brother is an alcoholic too though unfortunately he is still on and off the wagon. Their lives are a mess right now and I couldn’t trespass on their lives in this way. My cousin’s partner also volunteered though she too is in her early 40’s – I was extremely touched by her offer. My best mate made a tentative offer as did my younger sister (I did not let them make a proper offer) but both of them are not married and may want to have children in their future and there is nothing that I would do to jeopardize their opportunities, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. I am so lucky to have so many thoughtful, selfless people in my life. So, that left advertising which is rigorously monitored in my State – we would have to submit our advertisement to the government, wait for it to be approved etc.
I didn’t bring up the donor eggs in Thailand proposition with JourneyMan until after our fifth failed IVF cycle because I didn’t think that he would be willing to consider this option. He totally surprised me and was supportive right from the word go. I found a ex-pat Aussie woman who had had the procedure done and went back and forth with her about all of my questions. I have asked myself many times why I would rather go to Thailand and pay for the donor cycle rather than advertise in Australia. I am strangely comforted by the fact that it is a business transaction (but also disturbed that this comforts me). When thinking of my sister-in-law being the donor, my thoughts went to a situation where one of her children needed a kidney transplant and because my child would be a match, they would have to do it because ‘they owed’ my sister-in-law’s child. Very complicated. I know that there are complications this way as the child will have little opportunity to find anything out about their biological mother, morally – I feel it is in a strange zone but if the Thai woman is willing to donate her eggs, then I am willing to give her money for it. I once asked JourneyMan what he thought about the moral issues of us paying to use someone else’s egg and he said ‘the child is going to be completely loved – isn’t that the most important thing?’ – I say YES!


  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm not sure I understand why you need a donor, is it your low number of eggs? I'm also baffled that they didn't discover your endo until after 4 rounds of IVF!!
    You are indeed lucky to have such wonderful family. Morally it's a tough situation but you need to do what's right for you.

    Best of luck sweetie!

  2. I met a couple from Australia doing a DE cycle in the Czech Republic a few days before I left. They said how difficult DE was at home. I wish you all the best this coming cycle. Thanks for sharing your story!

  3. Wow, what an incredible story. I had wondered why you chose Thailand. It all makes perfect sense to me. It is wonderful that your husband was on board right from the moment you told him. I hope and pray that this all works out for you guys. I can't believe you are down to less than 50 days!

  4. I've too thought about using a known donor, but that presents so many issues that we decided not to use a known donor. Of course, all of that is on hold for now as I attempt to lose weight.

    I've got something for you on my blog if you want to hop on over when you get a chance!

  5. I can understand how a known donor could complicate things. We considered a known donor (a cousin0 for awhile but then decided against it, one reason being that we were in the tell camp and it would have made things really complicated. For me the draw of a "business transaction" was that it provided a clear cut alternative that had it's own complications, but those complications at least felt manageable.

  6. Hey you!!!!

    I have just been having a lay down while I summons the motivation to read your motivation post (yes, I am a few posts behind....) are you ICLWing this month?????? Better get yerself listed TODAY!!!! Speak to you soon, if I don't get too exhausted trying to keep up with your activities!

    LS x

  7. Thanks for sharing your story! I hope it goes really well. I may be moving to the donor egg route in the next year. I agree that it could be weird/complicated to get a donor egg from friends/family, but everyone has their own thing! All the best!


  8. wow - it's a whole different ball game over there, isn't it? In the US where it's commonplace to use a donor agency they say that you are not "buying" the eggs you are paying the donor for her time and inconvenience and the risk to herself. Don't know if that helps.Good luck!

  9. I wish you all the best on youe DE cycle!

  10. Thank you for your comment on my blog.

    Gosh after reading a few of your posts, saying you've been though a lot seems like an egregious understatement. I'm sorry you've had to endure so much during this journey. And reading about your friends, absolutely breaks my heart. My friends don't get either. Looking back I wish I had never told them. It would have been easier to endure this alone, than to realize that some of my "friends" aren't who I thought they were. Some either tell me to relax, or the rest of them are completely oblivious to how incredibly burdensome infertility can be. Case in point: my friend's wife just asked me to help her paint her nursery... SERIOUSLY?!

    Anyway, I find it fascinating that some countries don't allow money to be exchanged for gametes. I understand their reasons behind it, but I just think that the good parts outweigh the bad. I think the donor should be compensated, and in the end - everybody wins. My brother's friend donated eggs while she was in college to help pay for Law School. And somebody got to have a family because of that... Sorry I realize I'm preaching to the choir. I just hate to see you question the morality of your next step. But the fact that you do, shows what wonderful parents you will be someday. And I hope that someday is very soon.

    Sorry for the really long comment, I was just very touched by your story. I look forward to hearing about your experience in Thailand, and the happy ending that I hope will follow.

  11. Thanks for the comment on my blog. I've was intrigued by the Thailand option when we were TTC and look forward to following your journey. Best of luck (at least if you get your hair cut there, there is a good chance that you won't understand them them if they ask if you have kids! :-) )

  12. Oh the fun of endo! I was (probably am again) riddled with it, also have a UU but no rudimentary horn. Have you considered having the horn removed in order to curb the endo?

    I'm really sorry you were laughed at. My mum laughed at me too, in front of others. It was hurtful and humiliating.