Real Life

‘I beat my phobia to be a donor’

Pilot Christie Walker has opted to be a donor to help a couple fulfil their dream of having children.

The kindness of a stranger can change a person’s life or, in the case of this stranger, help to create one. Last year, Christie Walker (33) was on a lunch break from her work as a commercial pilot when she read a notice in the newspaper, advertising for an egg donor.
“The advertisement was simple, but you could just hear this plea coming from the couple,” she recalls.
Christie, who describes the women in her own family as “very fertile,” was single at the time and focused on her career. With dreams of flying for a major airline and saving up for her own home, a baby would have to wait. But she couldn’t help but think the eggs her body was producing were being wasted.
“If I wasn’t going to use them while there were couples out there who were desperate to have children, it seemed like a good thing to do,” she says.
Christie was so compelled by the idea of becoming a donor, she took a photograph of the ad with her phone. She then set about researching fertility on the internet, before contacting Fertility Associates to tell them she was interested in donating.
Having overcome a phobia of needles to ready her body for donation, Christie (seen here with dog Cracker) is happy to hear that her couple is now pregnant.
From there, she underwent a series of blood tests and swabs to check her fertility level and whether she was a carrier of the cystic fibrosis gene. She was then put on pregnancy multi-vitamins for three months and underwent counselling to make sure she understood the process.
While donors in the United States and the United Kingdom can be paid thousands of dollars for eggs or sperm, donations have to be given charitably in New Zealand. And, under our laws, any children born as a result have the right to request information from their donor when they turn 18 – something Christie may experience in the future.
“I never felt like I was giving away my child,” she explains. “The mother is the one who gives birth to the baby. And when it comes to the birth certificate, she will be listed as the biological mother.”
Matching donors with recipients is also a thorough process, one Christie describes as a bit like a dating service. She knew she’d found her match after reading a heart-breaking four-page essay by “her” couple.
“They jumped off the page,” Christie smiles. “There were so many similarities between us and when we met, I knew instantly they were the ones. The mother even looks like me with the same coloured eyes and dark hair.”
But there was one part of her selfless act that Christie really struggled with. She had to trick her body into thinking it was pregnant in order to produce large embryos, and so she was handed a box of syringes. The jabs would have to be done twice a day for more than a week, which meant Christie would need to overcome her long-held phobia of needles.
“I would have to grab a bit of fat on my stomach and push the needle in,” she says, squirming at the memory. “I kept the newspaper ad on the fridge so when I’d be struggling to inject myself, I could look at it and remind myself of my couple and why I was doing it.“
When Christie’s eggs were finally large enough, she was given one last trigger injection to help them double in size. Eight months after she started her journey, she was ready to have the eggs removed. “The couple met me before I had the procedure, and they had a big bunch of flowers for me. We were all crying and we shared a hug – it was really wonderful,” says Christie.
The surgery carried a small amount of risk. Christie was well aware that if it went wrong, she could develop an infection in her colon, which could then lead to her own infertility. Happily, the procedure went off without a hitch. Since having the operation in November, Christie has a new partner who is supportive of her donation, and there’s also good news for the recipients – according to Fertility Associates, the couple is in the early stages of pregnancy. While they wish to remain anonymous, they want to let Weekly readers know how much Christie’s kindness has meant to them.
“The courage she has shown, both emotionally and physically, for total strangers, is remarkable,” they write in an email. “She has given the most incredible gift to us and our families. We hope her generosity will help fill a huge hole in our lives. Thank you, Christie – we are forever grateful.”
Words by: Anastasia Hedge