1. But why?
I want to help people. I want to use my body to contribute to the world. I want to use the things my body can do, and just does without any help or my control, to give back to people whose bodies can’t do those things.
I’m an organ donor and a regular blood donor, and this just seemed like the natural progression.
I love my little girl so deeply and passionately and singularly that, since she was born, I’ve lived in more or less constant elation (and also fear), and if I can play a role in another person feeling that way, it’s something I feel I have to do.
2. “Aren’t you scared?” (Add “Will it hurt?”, “Wow, you’re brave/mad” and “But what are the side effects?” to this one.)
Not really – I don’t mind being under anaesthetic, I’m not scared of needles, and I don’t mind being poked and prodded, within reason. The egg-retrieval process itself involves injecting yourself with fertility drugs (a very mild/small dose) for 12 days in your abdomen, having three scans to check on the growth of the eggs, and then a half-hour operation that is done while you’re under general anaesthetic. The op uses a little suction thing that is like a thin straw, so there’s no cutting or stitches or anything.
What I am scared of is the effects that the drugs will have on my body. I have had to go on the contraceptive pill, and will stay on it for about 8 weeks, so that the recipient and my cycles can get into sync. Then I have to go off it for a week, and then start injecting. My body is very reliable, generally, so I’m scared that putting it through these hormonal changes will mess it up permanently. My head knows that this won’t happen, but I’m still nervous about it.
The risks are numerous but also extremely unlikely. The Cape Fertility Clinic is a world-class facility, and the doctors who are working with me have done this so many times before and know exactly what to look for. They are also extremely cautious, which helps.
I’m only midway through the process as I write this, so I can’t be 100% sure how I will feel while I’m on the fertility treatment, or how I’ll feel after the op – I’ll keep this section of my blog updated as I go through it all. But, for now, I’m pretty comfortable with everything the procedure entails (except for the being-scared bit I mentioned earlier).
3. What happens if the law changes and one day this kid knocks on your door and tells you that he or she is your long-lost child?
Even if the law does change, that kind of sudden contact will never happen, firstly. The agency I’m registered with will be the ones to receive a message that the recipient or child wanted to connect with me (and this is only if the law changes – anonymity is top, top priority at the moment, so even this wouldn’t happen) and we’d take it from there.
From where I stand, I don’t want to meet the child. I don’t want to meet the recipient. As far as I’m concerned, I am not giving anybody a child – I’m giving them the material with which they might (there’s a 60% success rate) create a child after adding a whole lot of other important ingredients – bits of the Dad, lots of pre-natal care, and a tonne of love and support once the hypothetical child is born. I am more than happy to know that my donation helped somebody, and not to ever know who they are.
4. Do you get paid?
Not in South Africa. You get “compensated” a few thousand Rand – mostly for petrol to get to and from the appointments, and for your time. In my opinion, the figure could be doubled or tripled, and it still wouldn’t be enough to make the process a financially viable option. I guess it’s all about economics – for me, messing with my body’s hormones and putting it through quite a taxing process is not worth any amount of money.
OK, maybe if we were talking, like, hundreds of thousands of Rand, it might feel worth it. But anything less than that, and, financially, it’s really not.
5. How does your husband feel about this?
People really do ask this, and it always leaves me feeling quite bemused – firstly because it wouldn’t affect him at all if he didn’t know I was doing it, and then because I wouldn’t go ahead with something like this if he wasn’t happy with it – so I’m like, well, obviously he’s fine with it because I wouldn’t be going through with it if he wasn’t, but on the other hand, it’s my body and not his so it doesn’t affect him anyway.
Anyway … He supports me and thinks I’m doing a good thing. We had to talk it through a lot before we came to the conclusion that it would be a good thing to do – he is not the kind of person who accepts things at face value. He thinks, he does research, he questions himself and his feelings. So I know that when he does give me his support, he’s not just saying it – he really does think it’s the right thing.
6. What prompted you to apply to be a donor?
I read this blog by chance, and two-time donor Nicki totally inspired me. She was registered with Nurture, and so I went through them too. This agency is a wonderful group of women, and they have supported me at every point of the journey so far.