The Heartbeat star, his wife and the woman their children call 'egg mummy': Couple treat fertility donor like a member of the family
11:37 GMT, 28 May 2012
Strolling through the bluebells with their three children, former Heartbeat star Jason Durr and his wife Kate pose happily for a family photograph.
The woman on the right looks as if she might be their nanny. But in fact she is the egg donor who made this picture possible.
Defying convention, the Durrs have decided to make the 28-year-old part of their family life, allowing her regular contact with the twins she helped provide, Velvet and Felix.
Dream family: Egg donor Brooke, right, with Jason and Kate Durr and their children, Velvet and Felix
The couple turned to the US psychology graduate – known only as Brooke – after fertility problems left them fearing they would never have any siblings for their daughter Blossom, now aged seven.
Almost three years on, however, they now have the family that they craved.
In a further twist, actor Jason – best known for playing PC Mike Bradley in long-running ITV drama Heartbeat – told how some of the spare embryos he and Brooke created were given to a New York couple, who have also had twins.
Jason, 45, and Kate, 44, started to try for another baby a year after Blossom was born naturally. But when their attempts failed they were stunned to learn that Kate had entered early menopause.
Kate – who had the twins’ embryos implanted into her – said: ‘It was an enormous shock to the system. I felt very down and responsible.
‘Blossom is a gregarious child and needed a sibling. She was always telling us how lonely she felt without a brother or sister and we wanted to give her a playmate she could grow up with.
Little miracles: Jason and Kate Durr with newborn twins Felix and Velvet in 2009
‘Looking much further ahead, we didn’t want her to be alone after we’d passed on.’
They were also faced with the additional problem that Jason suffered from a low sperm count after falling ill with mumps in July 2005.
Meanwhile, the family had decided to decamp from England to Hollywood, where Jason had secured work on TV shows. Once settled, they visited a fertility clinic in Los Angeles.
An IVF attempt using Jason’s sperm to fertilise Kate’s eggs failed, and at the end of the treatment experts said the only options left open to them were adoption, egg donation – or simply giving up.
Kate told Hello! magazine, which is out today, that she went through 'a process of grieving' after a failed IVF attempt
‘I went through a process of grieving,’ said Kate in an interview with Hello! magazine, which is out today.
‘I maintained a facade of cheerfulness, but when a friend remarked how pragmatic I was being, I broke down.
‘We considered giving up and we thought about adoption, but the doctors said, “If you use an egg donor you are in control because you’re carrying the child.”’
The law in the US permits donors to meet the prospective recipients of their eggs – whereas in the UK they remain anonymous – and Kate and Brooke quickly became friends.
Brooke was paid the relatively small sum of 3,200 for her eggs.
Kate said: ‘She stood out. Apart from her beauty, the warmth of her smile resonated with me.’
As the family posed with Brooke – known to the children as ‘egg mummy’ – Kate said: ‘It was one of our dearest hopes to create a family with children.
‘Not only have we managed to achieve that for ourselves, we’ve also given another couple the happiness of becoming parents.’
In the near future, the Durrs also plan to introduce Velvet and Felix to the twins born in New York, who are their genetic brother and sister.
Brooke said she had wanted to help couples struggling with fertility because of her own background, after she and her identical twin sister were adopted when they were three years old.
She insisted: ‘It had nothing to do with financial gain, but everything to do with an overwhelming desire to give something back as a result of my upbringing.’
ITV favourite: Jason Durr with Heartbreak co-stars Tricia Penrose, Clare Calbraith and Sarah Tansey
Remarkably, the Durrs and Brooke have opted to keep in touch and make sure Brooke has regular contact with Felix and Velvet, now aged two.
Brooke said: ‘I love the twins, but not in a maternal way. I love them as members of my family.
‘There’s no confusion over who’s who: they call me Brooke, although they’re too young to understand what egg donor means yet.’