A YOUNG mum who struggled to start a family is now helping others on their journey to parenthood.

When Claire Farnworth held her little boy in her arms of the first time is was the completion of a long journey.

The 29-year-old from Darcy Lever had to undergo IVF after struggling to conceive with husband Jason, aged 33.

In her own words, Claire's fallopian tubes were "knackered" but thanks to the IVF process - which used her own eggs - the couple are now celebrating toddler Harrison-Jay's fourth birthday in October.

At the end of last year, the stay-at-home mum decided to return the favour and donated her eggs.

She said: "We had IVF and I had been thinking about what I could do to help after having Harrison. I just wanted to give something back, I know there are women out there struggling.

"I felt a bit of failure at first when we went for IVF because my body wasn't working properly.

"Everyone has different reasons for having IVF. Some have had cancer and had their ovaries removed or are gay and want to start a family.

"It is awful wanting a child and not being able to have one. I know that and I had Harrison. It feels good to help someone else."

Claire went to CARE Fertility, which has nurses based at Crompton Health Centre in Bolton and in Manchester, for her donation procedure.

Starting in December last year, she had to go through assessments and consultation process – which includes talking to a counsellor about the ethical implications of donation – before giving herself daily injections for three to four weeks, which will help the donor produce more than one egg, as well as regular ultrasound scans and blood tests.

Once a recipient is found the donor is put on the pill until both women's menstrual cycles are in sync.

To collect the eggs an ultrasound acts as a guide for a needle to the ovarian follicles where the eggs are collected.

The procedure only takes around 30 minutes and is carried out under sedation.

A father's sperm is then introduced and the embryo is 'cultivated' for five days before being transferred to the recipient mother.

After undergoing IVF, the process was not daunting to Claire but she did have to overcome some hurdles.

She explains: "I couldn't inject myself, I had to get my husband to do it for me!

"I was more nervous going through IVF. As the donor you don't have to find out how it goes afterwards but if you are the lady becoming pregnant, there's lots to worry about.

"I don't feel strange about donating, whoever is the parent, that is their child. I'm just glad if I have helped someone out."

The CARE Fertility service has supported 200 recipients in the past 12 month with the help of 80 donors.

On average 53 per cent of the pregnancies will be successful.

Following the pregnancy donors can find out if the process has been successful for the recipient, the year of their birth and their gender.

They can also write a letter of goodwill which can be given to the child when they turn 18 if their parents have revealed they were born through IVF.

After a change in law in 2005, the child can also find out the details of the donor when they turn 18.

It takes a lot to become a donor, not just the decision to conceive a baby you may never meet, but also because of the strict process.

Donors must be under 36 – as egg quality deteriorates after this time – and have no history of genetic conditions like haemophilia, Type 1 Diabetes, cystic fibrosis or conditions such as Down's syndrome in at least three generations of their family.

They must also be within a health BMI and preferably not smoke or drink excessively.

Women can donate six times – with a three month gap between – if they have not had a child before and 10 if they have, sometimes donating to the same parents a number of times.

The centre is appealing both for male donors – having only welcomed 10 this year – and female donors who are willing to go through the process – which is rewarded with a £750 cheque – and help make a family.

Helen Mitchinson, the nurse co-ordinator at the Bolton clinic, says the intensive process can lead many to drop out but hopes others can see it through.

She adds: "Out of 900 enquiries you only get about 80 women who donate as there is so much to go through.

"Donors go through a lot to help someone have a baby. I think the women who do it are very brave."

CARE Fertility medical director Philip Lowe thanked all previous donors from Bolton and beyond for their generosity.

He said: "Without them we simply couldn’t help many of our  patients become parents. Donors and recipients can be reassured that we only recruit donors in the UK, giving them the protection of strict UK regulations and screening.

"All donors have specialist counselling and are health checked.  We would love more donors to come forward - they are a wonderful group of women and they quite literally have the ability to change another woman’s life."