As the founder of world’s oldest egg donation program, I am happy to be able to have an overview of the starting point, and, of course, all the changes that have occurred in over 25 years since our inception. By a stroke of luck, among our very first of several egg donation recipients was an Australian couple. I have helped countless Intended Parents from Australia over the span of many years, but I think Rose and her husband were the most memorable.
They were referred to me by Professor John Leeton, who was a respected physician with Monash IVF at the time. He was a colleague of Dr. Joel Batzofin, who was a founder of the Huntington Reproductive Center, one of the earliest and most successful IVF centers in the Los Angeles area. Professor Leeton was one of the first IVF Doctors, literally a pioneer in the field of in vitro, and he was kind enough to refer his Australian patients to Joel and to me. The world was smaller then, and no one was doing what we were doing: private egg donation with anonymous donors through an agency. Egg donation in Australia at that time consisted of a wait list to get eggs from a completely anonymous donor with very limited information about her family history and certainly no photo. Because donors in Australia could not be compensated, the wait list was extremely long. Rose and her husband put themselves on the list but they could barely wait to get started building their family through egg donation and they knew that the wait for a donor in Australia was quite long.
So off they came to America, showing what I thought was remarkable bravery to travel across the world for an egg donor in an era where egg donation was a new concept. They knew nothing about the egg donation process or the IVF cost. But fueled by courage and hope, they connected with me and found a lovely donor willing to help them begin their family. Rose was always so warm and friendly, a harbinger of Aussie’s to come. We had a great connection; I was there at her donor’s retrieval, and was delighted to find out that she was successfully pregnant and later gave birth to a son. What bliss!
Rose stayed in touch for a couple of years, graciously sending her thanks and joy back to us. Through photos Dr Batzofin and I watched her sweet baby turn into a toddler and begin to walk. We were so happy for Rose but then, as was to be expected, or communication fell away.
One day I was delighted to get a call from Rose. She and her husband wanted a sibling for their son, who was now 6 years old. They wanted to come back to their friends in America to repeat their first experience. I was more than happy to help. There were some advances in egg donation which could serve them: better screening, better IVF success rates, more information and more candidates available through egg donation. We were so excited to see our wonderful Aussies again and meet their son.
We began the matching process right away. Their first donor was not available, but after some consideration of a number of candidates, we were able to make another match. Mission accomplished again! All of us approached this moment with great anticipation.
Suddenly I got a call from Rose, who was very anxious, unsure of what to do. She did not want to disappoint her new American donor, or the doctor or me. But she had gotten to the top of her waitlist at her IVF clinic in Australia, and she was being offered a cycle with a potential donor in Melbourne. This was a wonderful opportunity, and I congratulated her on going to the top of the waitlist so much faster this time. She laughed and told me ironically that the wait list was the original one she had signed onto 6 years ago when she was struggling to have her first child.
Rose chose to stay In Australia to create this new baby. She knew that babies don’t carry passports, they all come from heaven.