Nancy was just 19 when she was told that would never be able to have children of her own. The doctor had diagnosed premature ovarian failure and the damage could not be treated. But against all odds and with the help of a generous hearted friend, she has given birth to three beautiful children that she calls her miracles.
Nancy came to England with her husband Miles in the mid 1990s when he was stationed at RAF Mildenhall with USAF. They had been happily married for a few years and felt ready to start a family so they began to investigate adoption programmes.
It was then that a chance meeting changed their lives, as Nancy recalls. “We were talking to a colonel at the adoption meeting who was also a doctor on the base. He turned to me and asked if we had heard of Bourn Hall. We hadn’t. He went on to explain that he and his wife had had treatment at the IVF clinic and although they hadn’t been successful they had been pleased with their treatment and would warmly recommend it.
“He explained that he was about to be posted to Turkey but he would write us a referral to Bourn Hall that would be good for three years if we decided that we wanted to give IVF a try.”
The couple thought about it and six months later decided they would go to Bourn Hall for a consultation to discuss the Cambridge donor programme, although their expectations were very low.
They had a meeting with Mr Peter Brinsden, who was the Medical Director at the time, and he gave them some unexpected news – Nancy would be able to carry a baby if she was given donated eggs. However donated eggs were in short supply and the waiting list was about three years.
The couple returned to the base and discussed this sudden turn of events with their friends. Once friends who had children of their own appreciated the situation, two couples came forward and volunteered to be egg donors.
“I was overwhelmed,” says Nancy. “Suddenly I had the chance of my own baby. One of the husbands had known Miles from before we were married. It is part of the military bond, that willingness to step in and help out. It meant everything to us.”
The first attempt at IVF with the donated eggs was successful and Nancy gave birth to her daughter Emiline one week after her 35th birthday.
The couple were then posted to the States and left the frozen embryos safe in storage at Bourn Hall. Two years later they decided to have another attempt at treatment to see if they could produce a brother or sister for Emiline. This time was more of an adventure.
Nancy flew over in September 2001 with her daughter and stayed with her friends Lisa and David in the UK. When Nancy went to Bourn Hall for the embryo transfer, Lisa came with her to the clinic.
Nancy explains, “It was just after 9/11 so I found the flight very stressful. Lisa took care of me and was with me through the embryo transfer. This was emotional experience for her, she could see what egg donation would mean to another woman, and share with me the joy that gift would bring.”
The experience was so moving for Lisa that she decided to become an egg donor. Lisa had recently had an operation to remove her womb but it had left her ovaries unharmed. Knowing that she would never have another child of her own and seeing how much it would mean to a couple like Miles and Nancy she decided to be a donor and went on to donate three times.
To be an egg donor the woman needs to be aged between 19 and 35 in good health and either have completed her family or to have decided not to have children.
Then on her 37th birthday Nancy was told the good news that her treatment had been successful and she was pregnant with twins.
“By this time we were stationed at the same base as my friend Sue, the donor. She has four girls, including twins. She was with me through the pregnancy and it brought us closer together, sharing the experience of having twins created a real bond. She was able to see the babies just before she and her husband were posted again.”
Nancy is full of praise and gratitude for women like Sue and Lisa who have given this incredible gift to her and other women.
“I would say thank you for even considering the option of being an egg donor. If it feels right for you, then it is the greatest gift that you can ever give. It changes lives, makes people into parents, people into grandparents, it touches so many.”
Miles and Nancy have donated their remaining embryos and hope that they will give other couples the chance of a family.
“I would like to think that out there somewhere another couple has the joy that we have.
“The children are my miracles and it has been an incredible journey.”
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