PHOENIX -- As women continue to live longer and break the glass ceiling in the workplace, more and more are putting off starting families. They certainly want children, but they are waiting until they're older to have them. Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn't always agree with that plan.
Fertility in most women drops significantly over age 35, and then falls off even more after 40. At about the same time, the risk of complications, including miscarriage, increases.
Diana Thomas battled infertility for 15 years, but now she has three beautiful sons, thanks to donor eggs. Fertility medicine was in its infancy, especially in terms of egg donation, when Thomas was trying to get pregnant.
"The option wasn't there when I was 25," she explained. "It didn't really start to come about until I was 38. There were very few people using egg donors at the time."
Thomas' oldest son, born when she was 40, was one of the first 100 babies in the U.S. to be conceived with a donor egg.
To help other women who find themselves in similar situations, she founded The Word Egg Bank. Since 2005, The World Egg Bank has made more than 2,000 donor egg matches all over the world.
"We have made it possible for recipients to choose the donor right for them, and we are considered pioneers in egg banking technology," Thomas wrote on The World Egg Bank website.
She sat down with Yetta Gibson to discuss her journey, finding her own egg donor and the support The World Egg Bank, which is based right here in Phoenix, offers women who need help to start their families.
"It's the first egg bank in the world," Thomas explained. "Sperm banks have been around for 35 years. We actually developed the technology to freeze women's eggs. … We ship women's eggs worldwide to help people have children."
Today The World Egg Bank is the largest frozen egg bank in the world with an extensive donor network.
Until The World Egg Bank was established, the donors and recipients had to be in the same doctor's office at the same time and had to have similar hormonal cycles. The process could take months or even a year.
With the technology to freeze eggs and ship them overnight, that time was cut dramatically.
"It reduces the stress for women immensely," Thomas said. "The outcome is a known outcome because you know you're getting eggs from a donor. When you go through a 'fresh' process, you can pay for everything and end up with nothing."
"You never expect that you're going to be somebody who can't have children," Thomas continued. "It's really a shock when you're told you have trouble."
She said the idea for The World Egg Bank clicked for her when her doctor asked if she could help another couple that needed an egg donor.
"I went through so many years of pain and being alone and not having anyone to talk as I learned about it. I thought I could really cut the learning curve for other women and come up with a very successful outcome for them."
The World Egg Bank is located at 4202 N. 32nd St., Suite L, Phoenix. For more information, log onto www.theworldeggbank.com.