Updated: Feb 23, 2021
Monday 20th July 2020 - 11:00 am
Today I met with Dr. Ali Al-Chami at CRGH, a fertility clinic in London. I had read many positive stories about the clinic and they came recommended by a fellow single father to be (at the time of writing). The CRGH fertility clinic claim to have the highest live birth rate for IVF/ICSI treatment per embryo transferred than any other IVF clinic in London, based on the latest HFEA data.
Prior to speaking with the clinic, I placed a series of messages on the many surrogacy Facebook groups in order to identify important questions to pose to the Doctor. This was invaluable as it raised many questions which I had not considered, for example, transfer timescales and protocols for transfer regarding medications for the surrogate.
The session was very useful and Dr. Al-Chami was particularly thorough in his questions and explanations of the journey with CRGH. We began by discussing my personal/family medical history. The usual questions around the use of drugs and alcohol were asked and, as I don’t partake in either, I am told this puts me in good stead when creating healthy embryos.
Talking of embryos, as a single man without a known egg donor, I will require an anonymous egg donor in order to create them. This can all be done “in house” as they have an egg bank and regular donors. Once my health checks are returned and I get the green light to go, we can start by trying to identify a suitable donor. I will be provided with generic, non-identifiable information such as hair colour, eye colour, height, weight and ethnicity in order to narrow down a suitable candidate. I have already given this some thought, but rather than go into too much detail here, I will discuss this at a later date.
Once I have produced a semen sample for analysis, my genetic material will need to be quarantined for 3-6 months before it can be used. This is standard practice for fertility clinics and required by the HFEA (see entry #7). Blood tests would be needed before and after quarantine to check for infections and disease such as HIV and other undesirable genetic characteristics such as cystic fibrosis. During this waiting period, I can then start the process of identifying the egg donor as mentioned previously.
CRGH offers two options for creating embryos from egg donation. The first is using frozen eggs which have previously been donated and kept “on ice” at the clinic’s laboratory. However, as part of the defrost process some eggs perish, reducing the number of potentially viable eggs to fertilise. The second option you use fresh donor eggs. A known or new donor to the clinic, who matched my requirements, would undergo a series of medical tests prior to starting a course of medication, culminating in the retrieval of their eggs. As the eggs are fresh, there is no chance of eggs perishing as part of the process. The clinic specifically uses healthy donors who are no older than 35 to maximise the chances of healthy embryo creation.
Once an egg donor has been found, embryos can be created using both sets of genetic material and frozen in time until a suitable surrogate chooses me to progress forward and help me bring my dream to life. Whilst the odds of frozen eggs surviving the big thaw is roughly around 75%, I have been reassured that the survival rate of frozen embryos is 95%. The clinic only performs single embryo transfers which greatly reduces the chances of twins and therefore protects the health of both the unborn child and the surrogate during pregnancy and birth.
Fingers crossed the odds will be ever in my favour!
We discussed the surrogacy process, and I was also advised on the positive and potential problematic characteristics to look out for whilst choosing a potential surrogate. This included the history of past pregnancies, lifestyle choices and condition of health. I will also be required to arrange a complimentary “Implications” counselling session with one of the clinics suggested counsellors in order to discuss the process and, as the title suggests, future implications. I will share more on this in a future post when I have completed the counselling session.
Finally, I was informed that one of the surrogacy nurses, Shanee, would be in contact during the week to provide further information on detailed costing for my journey and arrange to make appointments for the necessary initial health tests to be carried out at the clinic.
For now, thank you for following my journey so far. As always, I hope this proves informational for future IP’s, and I hope friends and family have a better understanding of my journey.
Until next time, keep the Dad dream alive!
Read more from my Dad.Be blog here
Follow me on Instagram @stephens_surrogacy_adventure