“I gave birth to twins”
Elvira Giannitto is an international egg recipient who wanted to work with a South African company
Hi my name is Elvira Giannitto. I am 49 years old and work as a medical Scientist. I married my partner Tony who is 8 years younger than me. At 39 years old I delivered our son Danny. Later I found out that Danny was a miracle because I had a cyst on my right ovary and Tony had a low sperm count. This was followed by a spontaneous miscarriage and a hytidaform molar pregnancy, which was not viable.
I had the cyst removed, followed by 8 cycles of IVF with two pregnancies resulting in spontaneous miscarriages. Once I had grieved the loss of not being able to have another child which was biologically mine, I looked at adoption and then egg donation. I chose egg donation because I wanted to experience pregnancy again, give the children a biological connection as well as being the fastest and most affordable option available to us.
We chose Nurture because we wanted a local South African company to benefit financially. Nuture were fantastic, they answered every request and question I had. The process was very streamlined with Nuture and I was given a high quality service.
Everyone just assumes egg donation will work but it requires an element of magic and as I was aware of this I chose to seek the services of a good clairvoyant to see clearly in an area where I was being clouded by desire and not outcome.
I scanned the files looking for donors who had grandparents living in the late 60s and 70s. Then I looked for features in either the donor or their children which were similar to my son. With this information I narrowed it down to two donors which is when I seek the help of the clairvoyant for a successful outcome.
In the mean time my husband and I were seeing a naturopath to ensure the health of our bodies was balanced. I had my obstetrician test me for every test possible to sure that if I had a fantastic embryo that I would not have a miscarriage. As it turns out I had a MTHFR mutation with meant I had to take 10 times the amount of folic acid as well as clexan for up to 20 weeks of pregnancy to reduce the risk of miscarriage. Yes I may have had a miscarriage if I had not discovered the MTHFR mutation.
The donor produced six eggs and five of them were successfully fertilised. I had genetic testing done on each embryo and they are all female embryos. They transferred two embryos. At week six I had a bleed and feared the worst. To my surprise there were two sacks with heart beats. I delivered at 36 weeks +5 days. Two beautiful girls, Lilly and Rosie, our family now complete.
We share our story with everyone and we will be sharing this story with the girls. As a mother I believe that every child has a right to know who their parents are. Our girls have two mothers, how wonderful to know that they are loved. I feel the donor has given our family two precious gifts. When I watch the girls I am reminded of the wonderful act of generosity by the donor.
It takes a very special person to donate, it’s not for everyone. The way I see it now is that when a person donates, they give the gift of life, love and a family to others. A donor may live with questions about the unknown and the possibility of unexpected surprises but that can make life more interesting.
As the recipient I would never have consider this option. It took a few years of failed attempts of IVF to humble us, just enough so we could look at egg donation. Once we had decided on egg donation we gained hope and we felt very excited. If you are considering egg donation take it one step at a time and make sure you ask lots of questions so you are comfortable with the process. This experience has been life changing for myself and my family. I would also like to add that being a mother of twins is so wonderful. We feel so blessed to have have been given twin girls!
“We have better odds than we’ve ever had”
After 12 failed IVFs, Sheryl* decided to use donor eggs through Nurture.
Just wanted to let you know that we transferred two great quality expanded blastocysts today (none to freeze but so glad we had those nice two to transfer today).
I remember when I first considered using donor eggs about 18 months ago after our 11th failed IVF cycle but it was too expensive where I was looking. I immediately dismissed it and felt like it was the end of the road for us. A year passed and we gave it one more shot with my own eggs – which ended in bitter disappointment yet again.
And then, a day after we found out our 12th cycle had failed, a friend texted me and mentioned that she had looked into using donor eggs herself a while back and told me to check out South Africa. I typed ‘donor eggs south africa’ into Google straight away and there your webpage appeared – truly like a fairy godmother!
And just over two months later, here I am in South Africa with much better odds than we ever had with any of our own cycles. So whatever the outcome, I just wanted to let you ladies know how grateful I am for your help, and for making a daunting process seem quite effortless in the end, and for giving us hope again. I will certainly recommend you to any of my friends in a similar predicament. Thanks very much Nurture!
“I was a recipient, and then donated our frozen embryos”
Natalie* had twins with donor eggs, then became a donor herself with the “gift” of frozen embryos
My experience with Nurture was extremely positive and I like to share how I experienced to be a recipient, a blessed mother and also a donor.
When I was 33 years old I had a severe infection that as a result obstructed my ovaries. At that time I heard for the first time from a doctor that I would probably never be able to conceive naturally. I could not really believe and we tried for a few years from then till my gynaecologist recommended me to try IVF. It was the second time I heard from a doctor that I wouldn’t conceive naturally.
After much consideration about the treatment and what would happen if it wouldn’t work as expected, I tried. Also here I failed to be pregnant. This time the reason was age. I had at that time around my 40s come to a point in life where my eggs weren’t good enough any longer to conceive. This was the third time I heard from the doctor that I wouldn’t have children and I was devastated. After many many tears I realized that regretting the time lost wouldn’t help at all. The only option I had was egg donation. And after so many years debating with myself about what to do I finally understood that I had to embrace gratefully the only one and single chance I still had in life to fulfil the dream of having a family.
I Googled and found the Cape Fertility Clinic. The doctor recommended Nurture to find an egg donor. This is how I got in touch with Tertia and Melany. Tertia explained the process and let me look at various profiles. I took some days off and together with my husband, looked at various donor profiles. I consulted with Tertia about my choice. She had no picture and I had chosen her profile based on the description. I found her qualities and preferences were closer to mine and liked it. I sent Tertia a photo of myself, asking for her opinion and she confirmed that she looked similar to me. I made my decision and after the donor had also accepted, the process started.
All the time I felt that Tertia understood what a woman facing infertility problems feels like, and she respected how much I wanted to know. She respected the time I needed without pressurising but she also gave the right support at the right moment. I saw that she and Melany gave support and motiviation to the donors, gave me confidence that I was not abusing the generosity of this young woman. The donor and I are anonymous to each other, but Tertia and Melany treated us both as special women with a very special bond to each other.
There, at the foot of the majestic Tafelberg I succeeded to be pregnant! I will never forget the sunny day when I got the transfer. I prayed and had so much hope as never before in my life. A few weeks later my doctor told me I was expecting twins! What a blessing. My pregnancy went well, the twins were born a little earlier but all went perfectly well. Our family is complete, the happiness we feel since my children were born is an incomparable feeling.
But our story with Nurture had also a special epilogue. After the transfer other three embryos were frozen. A year after the birth of our children I decided to donate them, as I felt our family was complete with the twins. Tertia helped me again, this time to find the right woman to receive the embryos I was donating. This woman was also blessed and months later she gave birth to her own child.
“I decided to go ahead and do it… and I am now pregnant”
With secondary infertility, and after miscarriages and multiple treatments, *Lauren become pregnant with a donor egg
I never really wanted to have kids – I told myself if was because I was career driven, didn’t come from a conventional a family (my mum died when I was seven and I was brought up by my older sister). In hindsight I think I instinctively knew that the partners I kept choosing in life were not great Daddy candidates. When, after a rather torrid divorce, I met my current partner everything changed. Suddenly I had more than enough love coming my way – I didn’t feel I had to earn it, it was just being poured on me in buckets and that’s when I realised I had enough to share.
My partner came from a family of four kids so he just assumed everyone had kids as a matter of course – the more the merrier! So we took the plunge. After one miscarriage and a few complications I fell pregnant naturally and gave birth to a tiny little girl (2.27kg) at 38 weeks. That was four years ago and I was 39.
I gave myself a year and then began the baby- making process again. There was no reason to think I would have any trouble, after all, I’d done it rather successfully before. How wrong I was.
After four months I started the usual things like Clomid and the like. When that didn’t work I went to the Cape Fertility Clinic to the ever-gentle, ever-wonderful, Dr Heylen. And so began the most soul- wrenching, relationship-testing, self-loathing journey of my life. I tried hormones – both tablet and injections, I tried artificial insemination – again and again.
I spent every waking moment obsessing over whether I was or wasn’t pregnant. I couldn’t go to the loo without checking for blood spots, my life revolved around times and dates and fervent desperate hope. Mentally, emotionally and physically the hormones and the fundamental need to have another child literally ruled my world.
And if anyone else told me to ‘just relax and let it happen’, or that I should be happy with my beautiful baby girl and just be grateful for what I had, I might have been forced to murder.
I thought about the donor egg route from time to time but kept dismissing it – it seemed too weird, too impersonal…it would mean admitting I couldn’t do it myself. Intellectually I knew it wasn’t my fault, emotionally I felt like a failure.
I surfed the net, I looked at all the different donor sites – here and overseas. The Nuture site spoke TO me, it was personal and funny and kind and it made my cry and laugh and feel that all hope was not lost. I mailed Kim, the fairy godmother, that very day.
I got the lists and over the next week or two I went through them. It was all very odd, like shopping for a child. Eventually I narrowed the list down and then went home and showed my partner the options. We got down to three or four choices and then I froze. All the fears came back…what if this child was not as fabulous as the one I have and I ended up loving it less? What happened if it had bad skin, was ugly, or worse, wasn’t very bright? All this I imagined I would blame on the donor mother and then somehow I wouldn’t love the child as much as my own bright, healthy, pretty little girl. I know that it all sounds so shallow but those are the thoughts and fears that plagued me.
One evening I had more than a few glasses of wine with girlfriend – a mother of two kids in their 20s. She related how different they were, how one had terrible skin and the other’s was flawless. One was a straight-A student while the other excelled at sports but didn’t have an academic bone in his body. They were both her children – born naturally from the same parents and yet they were different…it could happen in the best of families!
That was when and I how I decided to just go ahead and do it. Kim helped me with my selection. I cried the whole way through – in those days I cried most of the time, even at work which was pretty uncool. It wasn’t just when I was sad, it was when I was happy or in fact emotional in any way.
So began the donor process. Endless injections, endless tablets, endless emotional seesawing… it was hard on everyone – my man, my daughter, my friends, my staff, my colleagues – no one escaped.
I had one egg that didn’t take, and two miscarriages with the donor eggs – the latter were impossibly devastating and I almost gave up. But then I kept imagining the eggs floating about somewhere in the ether and that didn’t seem right. That and the fact that I have the world’s most supportive, patient, tolerant man.
And then it worked. As I write this I am almost 18 weeks pregnant. I don’t want to know the gender so I can’t tell you. Do I still fear that perhaps I won’t love it enough, that I will secretly blame the donor mum if my child is less than brilliant? Yes of course I do, but I somehow know that it will all be all right on the night…I’ll let you know in a few months.
“We are just so lucky another woman donated her eggs”
After failed IVFs and in her 40s, *Janine was advised her only viable route was egg donation, and after one match made by Nurture, conceived a healthy girl
“I met my husband *John late in life – I was 36 years old when we married and lived in the UK. We started trying for a baby in 2003. When it hadn’t happened after about 12 months we had fertility tests, which showed that my tubes were blocked. I had them cleared and soon afterwards I was pregnant, only to miscarry a couple of months later.
We struggled to get pregnant again and eventually decided to try IVF. I was already too old to have IVF with the NHS. We had one round of IVF at a clinic in London, which sadly didn’t work. After that, John and I went through a really bad patch and even though we had frozen embryos, we decided not to try again immediately. It’s a very hard thing, IVF. A lot of women don’t realise how emotionally draining it is and it can tear your relationship apart, not to mention the huge financial burden that runs alongside.
I decided to take a year out in my home country South Africa, and during a visit from John, he mentioned that he wanted us to try for a baby again, using our frozen embryos. I stayed on in South Africa and went to a fertility clinic in Cape Town for my drugs and injections, then flew back to London for the embryo transfer. It didn’t work, and my doctor in South Africa had already told me that if it didn’t work, I was too old to go through the full IVF procedure again.
He suggested we consider using an egg donor, which John and I were happy to do. I asked for more information and our consultant sent me links to two egg donation websites, one of which was Nurture. I loved everything about their website and contacted them.
Tertia, one of Nurture’s co-founders, introduced me to their donor database. My husband was going for all the six-foot blondes, but I was having none of it! I eventually ended up with a shortlist of three donors who closely matched my colouring, height and so on.
I sent a photo of myself to Tertia and asked her which of the three was most similar in looks to me. I was so pleased when she suggested the one that I happened to like best, so that was that, decision made. I had all my preliminary tests, drugs and injections in England, while our egg donor went through the IVF procedure in Cape Town. When the time was right, John and I travelled to South Africa where two embryos were transferred.
It wasn’t an easy process. After the embryo transfer I had to have daily injections in the backside, which was mainly administered by John. Then, a few days later I started bleeding. I thought, ‘Here we go. Once again I’m going to lose one or both of our babies.’ I remember sitting in the bathroom with tears pouring down my face, praying like mad that at least one of them would survive.
I did a pregnancy test after two weeks. It was a blood test and had to be sent off to my doctor. He then phoned us with the result, but I was so scared of the answer so I made John take the phone call. After a short conversation with the doctor he handed me the phone so that I could be told that I was pregnant. I was on cloud nine, I just couldn’t believe it!”
We returned to England but the bleeding started again around six weeks. I was really concerned, so I did some online research and contacted a private clinic in Sevenoaks. The doctor suggested I go in for a scan immediately. The scan picked up the baby’s heartbeat straightaway. What an amazing moment! Then, at 16 weeks, we found out we were having a little girl.
The first 12 weeks of pregnancy were difficult, as I was still having the daily injections, but thereafter I had a wonderful pregnancy, and I was determined to enjoy every moment of it. On my doctor’s advice, I was booked in for a caesarean, but about two weeks before I was due to go into hospital, my waters broke at 4am in the morning. My contractions started a few minutes later and I remember running around the house with a list of things that I needed to pack for the hospital. Half an hour later we headed for the hospital.
The doctor held *Megan up to me the moment she was born, a memory that will stay with me forever. She was whisked off to an incubator because they said she was too cold, my husband followed closely. Eventually they brought her back and I wouldn’t let her out of my sight. I lay there holding her all night, too afraid to sleep in case I dropped her. We finally had our baby and it was just overwhelming.
Megan was a happy, healthy baby. She is two now and we are incredibly blessed to have her. She has a wonderful personality, a very determined and intelligent little person who is so proud of anything that she manages to do on her own. When she was born, so many people said that she looked just like me, but now she is the spitting image of her father. They’re like two peas in a pod.
When the time is right we will definitely tell Megan how she was born. We’re hoping it won’t be an issue for her. She’s very much loved and she knows it. Her donor has said that she is open to communication so we have sent some photos via Nurture and who knows, maybe one day Megan will meet her.
We are just so lucky that another woman donated her eggs to us. People say it’s about money, but if you understand the process these egg donors have to go through, all the medication, the injections and egg collection and then know there is a child out there carrying your genes, it’s not about the money – it’s about giving.”
Look out for more recipient stories here – we’re constantly adding to this page