Women in Newcastle are being encouraged to “give the gift of life” by donating their eggs to fertility research or treatment.
The pandemic has led to a shortage in eggs being donated to Newcastle Fertility Centre, and so there are now calls for people to step forward and act as a “shining light” for families unable to conceive naturally.
According to the clinic’s senior consultant in reproductive medicine, Dr Meenakshi Choudhary: “There’s always been a shortage of donors in the UK, but in Newcastle, people who might have considered donating before Covid are unaware that our service is running and that there are many families in need of support.”
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Donations help women who have problems with their ovaries; those who’ve had cancer treatment that has impacted their fertility; people with hereditary conditions they do not want to pass on and older women whose own eggs have reduced in quality.
In addition to helping women who want children, Newcastle Fertility Centre located at the Centre for Life is the only clinic in the UK that is approved to recruit donors for research purposes, as certified by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.
Dr Choudhary explained: “Donations are helping us figure out why women may go through the menopause early, why the quality of eggs is reduced and about the factors which contribute to miscarriage.
“We are able to look at the molecular changes to the eggs and our findings will help women in the UK and the across the whole world.”
Healthy women aged between 18-35, with a BMI below 30, are encouraged to donate their eggs to fertility treatment and are provided £750 compensation for doing so.
Women of all ages, but especially those aged 35+, are welcomed to donate for research projects and will receive £500.
Before volunteers decide to donate, Meenakshi said it’s important that they understand the implications and for them to know they are “free to withdraw at any stage”.
“We explain every step to the volunteer, and offer emotional and physical support throughout the whole process. It’s a very similar process to going through IVF,” she explained.
The process begins with a short form to express interest and is followed by a meeting to discuss the available options.
For example, said Meenakshi,: “If a person is considering eggs for treatment, they need to decide whether they want the potential baby to be able to identify and contact them when they turn 18.”
Once the consultation is over, a blood sample, genetic testing and an ultrasound are completed.
If the tests come back clear, then the donor can progress onto hormone injections for a couple of weeks, with a few appointments at the clinic to ensure the ovaries are responding correctly and that the eggs are developing.
The final stage is a short egg collection procedure, which is completed under sedation. A needle is passed through the vagina and into the ovaries under ultrasound guidance.
Dr Choudhary said that although each procedure carries a “very small risk of complication”, there is “no evidence that donating eggs will use up your eggs or bring forward the menopause.
“The hormone injections work to mature and recruit eggs that would otherwise perish, so there is still the same chance of you conceiving naturally after making a donation.”
The centre put up this link for anyone to express interest.
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