Danielle Lloyd has four boys and is desperate for a little girl. She always has been. She can’t imagine reaching 60-years-old and not experiencing that bond, like she has with her mother.
The personality has given birth to Archie, eight, Harry, seven, and George, five, with ex-husband Jamie O’Hara, and a little baby boy Ronnie with partner Michael O’Neill, born last year.
She is gunning to have one more shot at having a girl, so the 34-year-old is heading overseas to Dubai to undergo a gender selection, or sex selection, procedure, which is currently illegal in the UK.
After a friend revealed she had done the procedure to pick the gender of her baby, Danielle was immediately intrigued and wondered whether it was safe for her to do – the urge to form that mother-daughter bond stronger than ever and something she simply couldn’t ignore any longer.
‘It’s always something I’ve wanted to do, I want a little girl; how long can I continue to have boys?’ she told Metro.co.uk as part of Fertility Month.
Much like IVF, the gender selection procedure, also known as Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis, involves extracting eggs and fertilising them, turning them into embryos. As mitosis occurs and the embryos are separated by sex. The desired one, so female for Danielle, will be implanted in her womb.
If you were curious to know any other famous faces who have used it, Chrissy Teigen and John Legend are said to have used sex selection in conceiving their daughter, Luna.
After the birth of Ronnie, Danielle started seriously looking into how she could have the procedure, knowing it was illegal at home – but also scared that if she kept trying for a boy naturally she’d ‘end up with 10 football teams’.
‘Surgeons in this country offered to do it elsewhere, and people were telling me to go Cyprus – but one was telling me it was dangerous there because they “mix up the sperm” and I’ve heard horror stories,’ she said. ‘You’ve really got to be careful and I had to make sure I was getting advice in the right places. We’ve found a place in Dubai, which is strange because you’d think they’d have strict rules, but they often do it in their country to get boys. Let’s hope they get it right and I don’t have another boy!’
Danielle told us she’s estimated the costs, for her, to be between £15,000-£20,000, which makes it hard for many families who can’t afford it. Now, grateful she is one who can afford such a procedure, she’s working towards travelling to the UAE next year to begin the process, which will take a month with risks similar to that of IVF.
And Dan is under no illusion it’s a guaranteed pregnancy.
‘The embryo might not implant so there is that risk there, but I have conceived naturally before, so it should hopefully work,’ she continued. ‘And I think there are women who can’t carry a certain sex. It might be the case that I can’t carry a girl.’
The mother made her plans known last year and spoke about the reasons why she wanted to go through with the procedure and it’s an understatement to say the backlash was swift and harsh.
‘I thought maybe I should have just kept my mouth shut,’ she laughed now, in the wake of the controversy.’
‘For me, I don’t see the ethical reasons [against it],’ she continued. ‘I’ve got four boys, so the whole reason for me to do it is for family balance, rather in some countries they do it because a boy is seen as more valuable.
‘I can understand why people get upset and I get women messaging me saying, “I can’t even have one child, you’re so ungrateful”.
‘I’m not ungrateful, I love my boys; they want a girl as much as me. “They’ll say, is our sister in your belly yet?”’
However, the woman is strong-willed and made it clear that even some critical trolls weren’t going to dissuade her from doing it: ‘It’s my life and you only get one. Everyone is entitled to live theirs how they want to, and if that is me getting gender selection because I want a little girl I don’t think anyone should begrudge me [of that].’
But what if it doesn’t go to plan and she doesn’t get her little girl? Or, the process backfires and she has a fifth boy?
‘If I can’t conceive with a little girl and it doesn’t happen then I truly believe what God wanted for me and that’s the way it’s meant to be,’ she said, stoically. ‘So I will live with it.’
Through speaking about the process, and making it public, while Danielle copped the heat, she doesn’t regret it, insisting she’s opened up the conversation to women who may have been too afraid to make their wish known beforehand – like her friend, who chose to keep her sex selection procedure a secret from her family.
‘I’ve had so many women message me saying they’ve either had it done or they want to have it done. There is a lot of positivity out there; it’s not all one-sided so it’s been nice to speak to people about it,’ Danielle said. ‘Women are made to feel they should be nervous about talking about things or what they want.
‘I feel like women who are in the public eye should be able to talk about these things and empower others in our society.’
WHAT IS SEX SELECTION?
Sex selection is a controversial procedure, illegal in the UK, with the most popular process being Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) which involves the use of DNA ‘probes’ to identify X and Y chromosomes in embryos, or fertilised eggs. Females have two X chromosomes, while males have one X and one Y, which can be determined by doctors through the use of this tool.
Another process involves embryos being screened for sex-specific conditions and once the sex has been determined, the chosen one (or two) will be planted in the womb via general IVF practices.
Through this way, you can only legally choose your baby’s sex in the UK if you have a serious genetic condition, such as haemophilia, that you risk passing on that only affects one sex.
Another process is sperm selection, which involves a doctor separating male from female sperm. Also illegal in the UK, it uses flow cytometry, which adds a fluorescent dye to a sperm sample. The male and female sperm will react differently to the dye, and then whichever preferred sex will be used to fertilise the egg.