I used an Egg Donor…but don’t tell anyone!!


Recently, I had a conversation with a dear friend, who had just conceived after a cycle of IVF. After four prior failed cycles, she and her husband had been advised to go the donor egg route, as her own egg quality was poor. They were lucky, as they got pregnant after their first donor egg cycle. They were overjoyed, and she called me shortly after she got the news. I was over the moon for her, and we soon started talking about when how soon she could see a doctor. She lives in Kano, and had traveled all the way to Abuja for her cycle. As she wasn’t too confident about her clinic in Kano, we soon started discussing options; whether to look for another clinic in Kano, or if she should go back to Abuja, or if she should come to Lagos, as her mother had suggested.

“Nicole, to be honest, I really want to come to Lagos, as that’s where the doctors I am most comfortable are.” she admitted.

Fair enough. Before I could even ask her if her husband would mind, or if she could get time off work, she added. “But I don’t want to use my family doctor, and run the risk of him telling my family that I used donor eggs.”

“So?!” was my own bemused response. What on earth did it matter?! Wasn’t the only important thing the fact that she was finally pregnant.

She laughed. “Nicole, don’t talk like that oh. If my family should hear that I didn’t use my eggs, the story will change. That child will never be regarded as one of their own. They might not say anything now, but I don’t want to risk anyone insulting my child some years down the line. My husband and I have decided that nobody outside the two of us will know about this. You are the only one I’ve told.”

I ended up giving her a sermon about how she should explain to her family that that baby has been growing inside her since it was just a collection of cells, how science has proved that that unborn babies can feel, perceive and learn in utero, and how the bonding and attachment would not be any different than if it had been her own egg, but she just laughed and insisted that she knew her family, and there was no way they would be able to digest the news.

After our call, I thought about it for a while. I have always thought of donor eggs, and sperm, as welcome assistance to those who, unfortunately, are not able to use theirs. If it had come to that, I would have used them without even batting an eye. And I would like to think that it would not have mattered to my family either.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that, alas, in every family, there will always be the myopic and judgmental ones, who will derive joy from nothing other than tearing others down. I realised that, although the fact that I had IVF is no secret, I haven’t shared that piece of information with all my relatives…simply because I know that their thinking is still trapped somewhere in the 18th century! No, I am not ashamed, and would shout it from the rooftops! But, I have inadvertently screened this information from these narrow minded family members.

So, I understood where my friend was coming from. I knew she wasn’t ashamed of using donor eggs, but, because she knew the people she was dealing with, had decided to screen that information from them, to protect her child. And I knew it was the sensible thing for her to do. Not just from her family members, whom she knew wouldn’t understand, but from anyone at all who could potentially give her negative energy she didn’t need.

Full of curiosity, I asked another friend of mine, Loretta*, about her own experience. She had had her twin boys using donor eggs, and was the happiest woman ever. And she was very candid with me.

“It wasn’t an easy decision for me to make.” she admitted. “I thought I was a failure to have to resort to it. I thought my husband would consider me a failure…I thought I had failed my womanhood. In fact, I went through that cycle very detached and uninterested! But after those embryos were transferred, something inside me changed. Even before I got my positive test result, I used to talk to them everyday, begging them to stick…and I fell in love with them. And during the whole pregnancy, the love only just magnified! Today, I don’t even remember it. Those boys are my flesh and blood. Can’t you see that Taiwo even looks like me?” as we laughed, I actually noticed that the boy actually did.

“Did you keep it a secret from your family?” I asked.

“We wanted to at first, but we decided, what the heck! And so we told them…both families! And they have been amazing! Of course, there are the one or two that had their own colourful opinion, but who cares about what those ones think?!”

As we talked some more, we later got to the topic of donor sperm, to which her reaction changed. “Ah! I wouldn’t have been able to do that one oh!”

I actually understood why, but chose to ask anyway.

“Nicole!!! You know how men are! What if he wakes up tomorrow, and starts shouting about how the children are not his??! With our donor eggs, I know how long it took for me to get emotionally on board, and at least, I was able to carry the children in pregnancy. With donor sperm, my husband would just be an observer! Ah, I couldn’t do that to him!”

The funny thing was I could identify 100% with what she was saying. It would take a very strong man, emotionally and not physically, to opt for the donor sperm route. As much as I love and trust my husband, I realised I couldn’t vouch for what his reaction would have been, if it had come to that.

I attended a seminar recently, where medical practitioners were discussing various advances in fertility treatment. One of such centered around the use of donor eggs, wherein the cell matter from the recipient would be transferred into the egg received from the donor…so even though it was a stranger’s eggs, the DNA of the recipient would have been replicated in them.

Rather than be impressed, I was actually a bit flabbergasted.

The honest truth is that all this really shouldn’t matter. What’s most important is the gift of parenthood. If we are so hung up on DNA and genetics, then what hope would children looking to be adopted have? If having at least one partner’s DNA isn’t enough to make a couple feel happy and content with their bundle of joy, then the couple might need to question it’s commitment to each other. After all, isn’t what’s mine yours? And vice versa? If one partner’s DNA is involved, surely that should be enough.

And even if neither partner’s DNA is present, as long as the couple has bonded over it’s decision to open it’s heart and home to an adopted child, that is all that is required to make that child 100% yours.

What’s most important is for the couple to be fully accepting of whichever route they choose…everyone and everything else is secondary. And you are under no obligation to be on full disclosure mode. If you prefer to keep this information quiet, or if you decide to let everyone know, it’s entirely your decision to make…and that decision should be in the best interest of, not only you and your spouse, but your child as well.

Baby dust to all!




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Photo Credit

  1. http://www.fivet-napoli.com/
  2. http://www.africanartworld.com


  1. Please i will like to know more @nicole
    So this egg donor,is it like a person who the couple know or the clinic just pick a specimen(dont know if that is the right word to use)from a rack and inject the mom to be? Wont the donor come later for the bay or babies or the couple paid before the specimen was used?

  2. @iyawodiipo if you don’t mind i bet Nicole will have a more in depth answer for you but summary is no. The couple usually do not know the donor as the donor is got once there is need for the couple to use one and based on (sometimes) specifications – so tey complete a form has blood group, etc and the hospital finds one. Donor can’t come to claim the baby because she won’t know them and isn’t even sure if the cycle was successful. The Mother’s body nutures the foetus so NOPE the donor has no claim.

  3. @iyawodiipo hun, @bosa has said it all. It is almost always an anonymous process, with neither the egg donor knowing who her eggs go to, nor the receiving couple knowing who donated the eggs. But in some cases though, it might not be anonymous. Whatever the case, the donor has absolutely no claim, as once fertilisation occurs, and the embryo(s) is/are transferred, that’s the end oh. As 90% of the time, the egg donors receive some form of compensation (cash or discounted treatment), I’m pretty sure there’s paper work to ensure there will be no cause for any claim in the future :yes:

    • Hi Eby, I checked for your average cycle days from the figures above and it’s 34 days. So will use that to calculate your tickers. Expect it tomorrow. Enjoy today.

  4. That’s sweet that she feels that that the boys she delivered are her flesh and blood but does she understand they inherited none of her flesh and none of her blood?
    The gestational carrier shares zero blood with the fetus whether the child she’s carrying is her child or not the fetus has its own blood and its own flesh and shares 49% of its genes from its father and 51% with its mother. When born that person will have no trace of of an unrelated carrier in his or her body and the carrier will have no trace of that persons genes in her flesh or blood. I work with the DNA results of people whose parents were donors as well as their mater but I spend a considerable amount of time working with the DNA of families separated by parents who were absent, including those who were egg and sperm donors. I reunite their families for free and I can assure you that a woman is not any more related to sons and daughters she gave birth to than to those she did not give birth to; they are equally her sons and daughters with 3380 cm of DNA shared and a longest block of 147 cm shared DNA.
    Saying they are her flesh and blood does not leave any room to respect the maternal family of those boys. Does their family and relatives matter to her? When she says they look like her they don’t look like her because of her. Their mother resembled her and so therefore that woman’s children look like they could never kids. Someone gestating another woman’s fetus can have a negative impact on fetal development if she’s jnhealthy or she can have no impact on their development if sbeshealth meaning she does no damage and the fetus develops in optimal conditions. But the physical features of the person she delivers won’t be inherited from the woman who gave birth to them unless they are related to her. Biological relatedness is established once a person is born and is a person independent of the body that developed them. Maybe your friend means that they are hers in the emotional sends and she’s just kidding about tbeflesh and blood stuff. I do hope she respects the boys as individuals with their own family brothers sisters grandparents au ts u cles and cousin s out in the word so e where and they will be at least as important to them as the relatives of the woman raising them
    You have to imaging e if she tried having her own children first before them then does it not stand to reason that as people they might try to havetbeirown mother never her? If she grieved the loss of a child that never existed would it be a big leap to think they might grieve the loss of a mother and maternal relatives that do exist? Adoption is far from Perfect but we generally recognize that it’s super sad that a person can’t be raised by his or her parents. For some reason people think that it its not sad when parents don’t raise their kids so long as they give them up at birth. Donors like all others who reproduce back e pare ts upon the birth of their offspring. They then meet the definition of parent in any dictionary or medical text book. I can see why your friend feared talking to her family about the fact they would not be related to the child she delivers but that’s no reason to lie to people about something g relevant to them. We should not lie to people about something g as fundamental as who they are in relation to others because we want to control their behavior. They should know if they are an aunt BH blood or an aunt socially. Its manipulative to mislead people to make them act how we want.I hope she reconsiders. Besides if she tells the person she gives birth to that they have maternal relatives of their own in the world which she should for ethics sake they’d then have to allow the lie to go uncorrected with your friends family that’s lots of pressure. Better to be how u said ud be fully truthful. God arrival thanks!

  5. Hmmmm…. I think the donor route is risky in a place like Nigeria especially if you become a public figure later in life. I don’t trust Nigerian fertility clinics when it comes to confidentiality. I think people who need a donor should go abroad.

    • Sasha, this is a serious allegation against fertility clinics but I beg to differ. I believe most of the clinics offering fertility treatments understand just how important the services they are offering are and the need for confidentiality. There might be bad eggs amongst them but they are all not the same.

  6. Hmmmm Oluwakemi, but what if the nurses or doctors involved write anonymous comments on blogs.

    But to be frank, it should be kept confidential. I just don’t know if Nigerian doctors and nurses can be trusted to that extent.

    For a person to resort to donor treatment means they really had to. People who have this deserve privacy and should not be exposed. I am not just sure about ethics in Nigeria.

    • Sasha, honestly, it’s sad that you feel like that but you must have your reasons. Howecer I know for a fact that most Nigerian doctors understand the need for confidentiality in their dealings with patients. The issues you have brought up can happen anywhere in the world, it is not a Nigerian thing at all.


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