WHEN a Daventry woman began to wonder about her fertility she started on the selfless journey to egg donation that has brought five babies into the world.
Charlotte Dyson, 30, has donated her eggs three times to private clinic CARE fertility in Northampton from which five babies, including twins, have been born.
Charlotte said: “It donated for the first time in January 2012. I had begun to wonder about my own fertility as I hadn’t ever fallen pregnant and after hearing adverts on the radio and seeing my sister in law – who has had IVF – conceive that way I just decided I wanted to give something back.”
So Charlotte got in touch with CARE to find out more about the process and underwent compulsory councilling to ensure she was certain about her decision.
She then underwent tests for genetic diseases and abnormalities to ensure she was in good enough health to be a donor.
Charlotte said: “After the tests you are matched with two recipients and they try to match up people with similar features, like hair colour, skin tone, shoe size and height.
“After that you start the process of injecting yourself in the legs every day to shut down your ovaries and make your body feel like it’s going through the menopause.
“You get night sweats and it is awful the first time, but the second time I didn’t have the same reaction.”
The next step was to be given more injections which caused Charlotte’s ovaries to go into overdrive and produce a large number of eggs.
When the eggs were big enough Charlotte was put under conscious sedation and her eggs were extracted.
If enough eggs are extracted for both recipients then the eggs are placed in a petri dish where fertilisation happens before being inserted into the recipient.
Charlotte said: “It’s really strange, you almost feel guilty if there isn’t enough eggs for both women. Luckily I have always produced enough but I’m always willing it on and hoping they aren’t disappointed.”
Following the donation Charlotte was required to write a letter to any children who may wish to know more about her contribution to their life when they turn 18.
This is something she struggled with as she wanted to strike the right balance between an informative and personal explanation of her donation. She said: “I wrote about myself in the letter and I just said I was very happy to have given their parents an opportunity to have children.
“I think receiving a letter at 18 is a good thing and gives the child the opportunity to find out more about themselves without opening up their whole lives up.
“I think the danger is that without that option it could be damaging.”
When asked about the prospect of having a child knock on her door at 18 Charlotte said she would have an interest in their well-being and genetic make up but did not see the child as hers.
“I think the only way you can be an egg donor is if you don’t think of them as your children. I think it is just an ingredient and it doesn’t become a baby until later.
“The egg hasn’t grown inside me, it’s someone else’s child who they have cared for and nurtured and has grown inside them.
“The interest I have is in the genetics of it and to see if we have the same nose but that’s all.”
It is this attitude that has allowed Charlotte to donate the maximum number of times this year and is the reason she intends to donate again in future.
She said: “It has given me a massive sense of well being and I do feel proud about it.
“My attitude towards my body is why wouldn’t I give it away and share it if I can, and I am happy to be able to do something like that for someone else.”
The fertility regulator has recently increased the payments made to egg donors to £750 from the previous £250, something which has satisfied the waiting list for people wanting eggs at CARE for the first time.
The expenses cover travel costs and the time women must take out of work while donating.
Charlotte said: “£750 is a much more realistic figure given the time you have to take out of work.
“I am self employed as a personal assistant but still needed days to recover and £250 wouldn’t really cover that.”
Since telling her story to others Charlotte has inspired them to donate, including her neighbour.
She hopes to start a family and have her own children in the future but has no immediate plans to fall pregnant.
For more information about CARE fertility in Northampton visit www.carefertility.com.