Disclosure: This post is sponsored by IVF Australia
Since the pandemic began, demand for sperm and egg donors have skyrocketed. We’ve also seen a spike in demand for eggs and sperm, with increasing numbers of single women having babies using donor sperm and more same-sex couples wanting to start their families using donor eggs and sperm.
To encourage more people to give the gift of life by donating their sperm or eggs, Virtus Health launched a new campaign this year, emphasising the selfless motivations of donors. Those who have donated say doing so could be one of the most life-changing experiences.
The campaign's overarching goal is to get people thinking about the extraordinary potential each of them has to improve the lives of others.
Sam and Jodie, a same sex couple from Mildura started trying to conceive using a sperm donor at the age of 40 years old. When their last embryo didn’t take, they learn they had underlying fertility issues preventing them from conceiving. Dr Melissa Cameron, a fertility specialist at one of Virtus' clinics, Melbourne IVF, informed them of the Virtus egg donor programme.
Sam stated that the unknown sperm donor they found was willing to reveal his identity to the child before the age of 18 if that was something the child desired, which the couple thought was important.
They were considering travelling to find an egg donor overseas after numerous unsuccessful embryo transfers, but using overseas eggs often means conceiving with anonymously donated eggs, and they wanted their child to be able to know their genetic history / information, unlike with the sperm donor. Fortunately, at a dinner party, a friend generously offered to donate her eggs, making the couple's dream of having children a reality.
Donating eggs or sperm in Australia is considered a tremendous act of kindness, as the donors receive no compensation and must commit to several doctor visits. Unfortunately, however, assisted reproduction methods like in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and artificial insemination is the only way for thousands of Australian couples and individuals to fulfil their deepest wish to start a family.
Sam and Jodie now have a two-year-old daughter, Mae, who was conceived with the help of an egg and sperm donor. And in November, they'll welcome a little boy into the family. Mae's new baby brother is her biological sibling; he was conceived through the same IVF cycle.
Sam was sceptical at first, questioning the connection: 'Would the child feel like mine using donated eggs and Jodie carrying the baby?' But this was a fleeting doubt. Sam is overjoyed that once her baby was in her arms, she didn't worry about not being the biological mother or not carrying the baby.
There are various motivations to become a donor, including wanting to make a lasting difference, knowing someone personally who has struggled with infertility, or simply recalling your own childhood memories and wanting to pass it on.
Dr Melissa Cameron has observed that "most donors have experienced someone in their life dealing with fertility challenges, which is why they want to help 'pay it forwards' and donate."
Sam hopes that more Australians will consider donating their eggs and that more people will learn about the incredible benefits of egg donation. She reveals that their lives have been transformed thanks to the generosity of her egg and sperm donors.
To find out more about the donor programme, visit the IVFAustralia Website https://www.ivf.com.au/treatments/donor-programme