Sarah Esdaile’s story began at age 40, when she was told of her infertility and that she would have to “forget motherhood, adopt, or use donor eggs.” This response immediately changed the course of her life and set plans in motion to figure out the next step forward.
Sarah sat down and shared candidly with the host of The Fertility Podcast, Natalie Silverman, to talk about her story and why she chose to seek donor egg treatment at Shady Grove Fertility in America.
Starting Treatment in America
After failed rounds of IVF and a failed donor egg cycle in the UK, Sarah reached out to Shady Grove Fertility immediately and was ready to talk about next steps. From that initial phone call, 3.5 months later Sarah was pregnant.
What made SGF different from other centers?
Sarah: SGF had a fantastic support system. I had lots of positive reinforcement and reassurance along the way. The continuity of care was remarkable. I felt everyone knew me personally and were invested in my journey.
What is the process of pursuing treatment abroad?
Sarah: Since the egg stimulation process is completed by the donor, who is local to SGF, you only need to visit America on two occasions: an initial 1 day visit to meet with your physician, nurse, and the rest of the donor team, and the second visit for your embryo transfer. Everything else is done in negotiation with your local clinic.
What were your reasons for seeking treatment in America?
Sarah: The biggest reason for seeking treatment in America is the anonymity around the donors. SGF’s donor process is anonymous, but completely transparent. You can choose a medically, genetically, and psychologically prescreened egg donor who is ready to cycle and donate. The donor database provides a wealth of information about the donor, including, in many cases, adult photos.
What is your role as the SGF UK patient liaison?
Sarah: My role is to help guide patients through the process and decision making. I can relate to the patients and understand their concerns. I have spoken to about 200 women. There are many common responses and fears about donor egg treatment: Will I connect with the child? What if I don’t bond with the child? Will it work? How do I disclose this information to my child? I’ve been in these people’s shoes and offer ways to help them overcome these fears.
What are your thoughts on nature vs. nurture?
Sarah: Everything you worry about regarding this topic will become irrelevant when you’re pregnant and when your child comes into the world. The minute you’re pregnant and begin mothering you’re too busy taking care of your child that there is no time for that examination. My advice would be to just jump. You get so much of the experience with donor egg treatment – being pregnant, giving birth, and breastfeeding. Everything now feels irrelevant, because the mothering is an ongoing thing.
What is your biggest takeaway and advice to other couples?
Sarah: While donor conception is not for everyone, seeking advice about the process is so important and making sure both partners are on board and on the same page. It’s also important to consider how you will approach this with family, friends, and your future child. This was the best thing I’ve ever done and what I’m most proud of. I have never spoken to anyone who has regretted it. As a UK liaison for SGF, I found it incredibly rewarding to see people give birth to their child and come out on the other side of the journey. My role helps to normalize the process.
To learn more about Shady Grove Fertility’s Donor Egg Program, please contact Amanda Segal, our International Patient Liaison, by calling 0208-003-0827 or Amanda.Segal@integramed.com.