A Staffordshire mother has urged women to sign up as egg donors and not worry about recent changes in the law which lift donor anonymity. Elaine Eades told Health Reporter Emma Brady about how she received her own "gift of life"
Twins Millie and Grace Eades look pretty as a picture and uncannily like their mother and father.
This should not be surprising except for the fact they were conceived using eggs donated by a woman their parents have never met.
Stephen and Elaine Eades, from Tamworth, Staffordshire, began trying to start a family in 1998 but after three years were referred by their GP to Midland Fertility Services, in Aldridge, Walsall.
However, after two cycles of intra uterine insemination (IUI) and two courses of IVF, the couple were told they would need to consider using donor eggs because Mrs Eades' were "poor quality".
"I'd always had this feeling that I wouldn't get pregnant. But we were both shocked when we were told that donor eggs would be our best shot at a successful conception," she said.
"I felt like I'd been hit with a sledgehammer, I was devastated."
In May 2003, after waiting nine months for a suitable donor to be found, Mrs Eades underwent a third cycle of IVF using the donor eggs, but despite a positive pregnancy test, a follow-up scan a fortnight later revealed there was no heartbeat.
The couple faced further heartbreak in December that year, when a frozen embryo transfer also resulted in a negative pregnancy test.
Mrs Eades, aged 42, added: "It was at this point we decided to take time out, because we'd been through so much and the waiting list for donor eggs was so long, but MFS told us about a clinic in Spain, where donor eggs were easily available."
After further inquiries the couple flew to Valencia in January 2005 to have a second IVF cycle using donor eggs, but this also failed.
Mr Eades, a BT broadband manager, said: "At this point we were ready to throw in the towel. We'd come to the end of the road and decided we had to get on with our lives as we'd had our application to immigrate to Canada accepted.
"However we'd forgotten to take ourselves off MFS's list for donor eggs, so when they contacted us in May 2005 to say they had a suitable donor, we'd got used to the idea of not having a family."
Realising this could be their last chance of fulfilling their parenting dreams, they found themselves back at MFS last July. On March 23 this year, Millie and Grace were born at Birmingham Women's Hospital weighing 4lb 8oz and 5lb 3oz respectively. Their story will be highlighted on BBC1's Inside Out tonight to encourage more women to donate their eggs.
Since April 2005 any child born as a result of donated semen, eggs or embryos can trace their genetic parent through the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's (HFEA) donor register.
This amendment to the HFEA Act states this can happen once the child reaches 18, if they know they were conceived using donor eggs or sperm.
Mrs Meade added: "We will never know who our donor was, but this anonymous lady has made our dream come true.
"She has literally given us the gift of life because I couldn't have had Millie and Grace without her generosity.
"I'm not worried about getting that knock on the door once they turn 18, because we've decided not to tell them about the donor.
"I really want women to come forward to go on the donor register – don't let this change in the law deter them from this truly selfless act."
Inside Out is on BBC1 tonight at 7.30pm