09 Apr Celebrities and Donor Eggs: 4 Inspiring Success Stories
Celebrities and donor eggs. The internet is full of speculation and comment about celebrities and egg donation treatment. We all know the stats: women have a low chance of a successful pregnancy, using their own eggs, from their mid-40s. (Actually, 43 onwards is pushing it.) The realistic choices open to them are adoption, surrogacy (probably using the surrogate’s eggs) and donor eggs. Or not having kids at all.
Many celebrities have spoken candidly about IVF treatment using their own eggs – Emma Thompson, Michelle Obama, Courtney Cox and Brooke Shields among others. But very few talk about donor eggs. That’s okay, donor-egg treatment is a big deal. We can all stay silent if we want. Celebrities are entitled to their privacy too.
With so many older celebrity mums out there, we owe a debt of gratitude to the small number of celebrities that have publicised their donor-egg journeys. We applaud them for two reasons. First, they promote the wonder of egg donation to a wider audience. Second, they debunk the myth that older women can rely on their own eggs, whether via IVF or not, to complete their families.
Donor eggs are an amazing option for older women with fertility issues (e.g. low ovarian reserve). If a celebrity is brave enough to say she used an egg donor, that’s a public service in our view. So let’s stop guessing which celebrities might have used donor eggs and start celebrating those who have.
Australian actress and comedian Mary Coustas has talked openly about her long and painful struggle with fertility. After multiple IVF cycles, she realised donor eggs were her best bet. ‘I wish I’d known earlier that was the best option on every level,’ she told the No Filter podcast. A later multiple pregnancy ended in tragedy, but her 23rd fertility cycle was successful. Her daughter Jamie is the result. ‘There are many privileges in having some public influence and attention,’ she said. ‘I hope my story makes the donor egg thing something that women are considering a lot earlier.’
Listing to Mary Coustas’ moving story, it reminds us how courageous and resilient donor-egg recipients are. Donor eggs are often the last throw of the dice for couples struggling with infertility. Mary’s suffering was tragic, but her determination is truly inspiring. Her celebrity status is irrelevant. She’s a woman who has spoken out about donor eggs honestly and from the heart.
TV personality Sonia Kruger is another celebrity who has talked openly about her infertility battle. After much heartache, she eventually tried donor eggs. She fell pregnant aged 48 after accepting a donor egg from a close friend. ‘I wasn’t that in love with my own DNA,’ she told The Australian Women’s Weekly. ‘Whether you adopt a child or that child grows inside of you, you’re going to feel love for that baby. It’s not possible for me to love Maggie any more.’ She has pointed out that maternal age is irrelevant as far as being a good parent is concerned.
Her TV interview on A Current Affair shows the level of happiness her pregnancy brought her. We think many donor-egg mothers are as motivated and strong as Sonia Kruger. She’s clearly a wonderful mother. We thank her for talking about donor eggs in such a positive way.
US actress Camille Guaty, star of Prison Break and Good Doctor, has made no secret of her donor-egg baby. She was told of her low ovarian reserve in her late 30s and, with her husband Sy Rhys Kay, underwent five unsuccessful IVF cycles using her own eggs. Sadly, their first donor-egg cycle didn’t work out and they turned to a new donor. On her second attempt, despite having just one suitable embryo for transfer, she succeeded. ‘I share my story,’ she said on Instagram,’ not because it is unique but because I think it’s something we don’t talk about.’
Camille co founded the charity Foster A Dream in 2018, to improve the care of foster children. We praise her for that, and we hope her openness about her fertility journey will encourage more celebrities to share their donor-egg success stories.
Shameless actress Tina Malone hit the headlines when she succeeded with donor eggs via a clinic in Cyprus. She underwent a rigorous regime to get healthy before the donor-egg cycle, drastically reducing her weight, quitting smoking and reigning in work commitments.
Despite developing pre-eclampsia (a risk factor for older donor-egg patients) she gave birth to her daughter Flame aged 50. She handled the tabloid intrusion well. ‘I was confident, I wasn’t scared, and my age was totally and utterly irrelevant’, she told Fertility Road magazine.
Tina has also spoken about how donor-egg babies can resemble their mothers. ‘When egg-donor babies are born, the baby often looks like the birth mother. They now believe that once the eggs are put into you, the cells grow and develop into DNA. So the whole nature verses nurture argument isn’t quite so clear-cut.’ (Read our blog post on epigenetics and donor eggs.)
Tina Malone’s fertility journey was made in the full glare of tabloids. We congratulate her on coping with that, for showing that older women can have successful pregnancies using donated eggs, and for celebrating the way her treatment has changed her life.
At Your IVF Journey, we’ve spoken openly about our donor-egg treatment. This has encouraged many women over the years to try donor eggs themselves – and to share their journeys with family and friends. We’re not famous, nor are the hundreds of couples we’ve helped. But we hope this openness will inspire a few more celebrities, and others in the public eye, to speak up about donor eggs.
Talking and sharing promotes the technology and the wonderful sacrifices made by egg donors themselves. Positive stories change attitudes. Changed attitudes lead to more donor-egg births and happy mothers.