Desperate: Egg donation last chance in baby dream
TO have a child is a blessing.
Fiona Gardner has a 16-year-old daughter and for that she feels incredibly lucky.
But the 37-year-old Brisbane beauty therapist desperately wants another baby.
She and her husband Patrick have been doing IVF since 2014, the year after they got married.
They have spent more than $40,000 and tried "every drug out there".
Fiona, who has severe endometriosis, has also had a "clean out" and IUI but "none of these things helped".
And after multiple rounds of failed IVF, their next - and only - step is egg donation.
"Egg donation is not something I had thought about and never thought it would be something we'd need," Fiona said.
"But my situation is eggs or lack thereof. They're just not quality.
"We could probably play around a little more with IVF and different treatments but I turn 38 in a few weeks and feel time isn't really on our side."
Fiona said the prospect of using donor eggs is a little daunting.
"I'm a lot more comfortable with egg donation now we see it as our last option.
"My husband has struggled with the idea. I think he would have stopped by now but I am certainly not ready to give up."
After their last round of failed IVF, Fiona said their doctor suggested it might be better if they look for an egg donor overseas.
"He said there is about a six year wait to find a donor egg in Australia and then it will cost about $30,000."
Egg Donation Australia (EDA) founder Melissa Holman said this isn't the case.
"Our average wait time in 2017 is five weeks. It often happens more quickly but there's a variety of factors in how long it takes.
"And a cycle in Australia costs less than $10,000."
But armed with this misinformation, Fiona started doing her own research.
"It's very hard, doctors don't really give you any information, they just say go away and have a look for yourself.
"I didn't know where the first place to look was so I started with a search on Facebook and came across a page for recipients of egg donors.
"I got on and said 'I am very new at this and it look like our option might be to go overseas, can anyone give me any information?' and I was bombarded.
"A lot of people recommended a place in Cape Town and some family friends told my mum about a couple who ended up going to Spain and are now advocates for the clinic there."
Fiona has been advised it will cost them about $25,000 to go through the egg donation process overseas.
She is seriously considering this clinic in Spain.
Melissa said they say $25,000 for overseas options but warned that can blow out very easily.
"What if, like happens in IVF, it doesn't happen first go?
"Sometimes it's not purely an egg issue alone there's other factors at play. Sometimes the embryo just isn't good then you have to consider additional expenses like travel, flights, accommodation and time off work - these add up."
Melissa said the other issue with going overseas is there is usually no access to the donor in the future.
"The children grow up without being able to access that information about their biological origins and even medical information.
"Many government research studies have proven that it's important for children to be told the truth and have access to the information should they ever want to know."
While the Gardners weigh up all their options, to help with the journey Fiona's mother Kaye Chappell has started a gofundme page.
The retired pensioner said she and her husband would "dearly love to be able to help them" but cannot afford to pay for their treatment, although they are doing what they can.
Kaye said she prays the gofundme and the "generosity of those who read it" will help Fiona and Patrick achieve their "all encompassing dream to have a baby".
So far 19 people have donated more than $2000 to them.
If you would like to donate you can do so here.
Fiona said she expected finding an egg donor would not be an easy process and is amazed there are women out there who do it, with no compensation.
"These women who are willing to give up their time and put themselves through this process are just amazing."
Alexia Purcell is News Regional Media's social media editor. You can connect with Alexia on Facebook: www.facebook.com/alexiajpurcell