Egg donation is one of those topics that causes an immediate reaction to people’s facial expressions if not properly and adequately comprehended. The bottom line is that egg donation is about humanity reaching a helping hand to one another and making a difference that lasts a lifetime. As certain destinations increase in popularity for this very type of treatment, it is not only appropriate but essential that South African egg donation is clearly understood.
First things first. Egg donation in South Africa is guided by principles to ensure an ethical service is offered and that necessary care and attention is paid to the various aspects around egg donation for all parties to protect the rights and interests of all and to offer recipients the very chance of conception with these amazing donor eggs. All recipients working with donor egg agencies are encouraged to confirm their compliance with these governing guidelines to satisfy themselves that they are working with a professional and established entity.
Some of the aspects supporting compliant egg donor agencies in South Africa include the number of egg donations per egg donor. Like everything in life, moderation is key and egg donation is no different. Legislation in South Africa indicates that no more than six children may be conceived with a specific egg donor. The egg donation guidelines also require that egg donors limit the number of egg donations to six. This maximum number can only be reached if an egg donor is found to respond well to egg donor treatments and of course is available and willing to donate with each treatment. The actual number per year should be limited to four donations. A professional medical opinion is always sought on the egg donor’s suitability to donate yet again, regardless of the outcome of the donation – being positive or negative. (This is because other factors, such as sperm and uterus also impact on the result).
Supporting the notion of South African egg donation understood is another key aspect, that of the payment. No persons may be paid for donation of human tissue. Egg donors are given a marginal amount, which is paid via the fertility clinic, for their time and efforts, not for the actual donor egg. Any egg donors insisting on a payment or attempting to negotiate an amount outside of the stipulated figure are declined from egg donation processes. All egg donation services are rendered ethically and within the realms of the guidelines and South African legislation.
The medical aspects remain the responsibility of the fertility clinic. So, whilst an egg donor agent can confirm high level information and do a thorough check and confirmation of the egg donor’s level of readiness, ovaries can only be assessed via internal scans and hormone levels by appropriate blood tests. As people change continuously, the rechecking of medical information is vetted by the fertility specialists and their interpretation and analysis of the egg donor’s information is the final say as to whether the egg donor is likely to give the recipient a good chance to conceive. Professionals have indicated that an egg donor’s previous fertility, via her own children or aiding a recipient to conceive with her eggs, are not always indications of her abiliy to contribute to another conception. The restesting of hormone levels prior to new egg donations are what is considered really important.
All egg donors require a new psychological assessment at least every year. This is by an independent psychologist who is able to confirm the egg donor’s emotional maturity and psychological soundness to donate their eggs.
Egg donation in South Africa is completely anonymous and confidential, so even if an egg donor and recipient are sittting next to one another in the clinic, they will not know that they are really so close in other aspects. Recipients may view childhood pictures of egg donors up to age 10 (if these are available). Their full profiles are also available, including medical information, family background, detailed educational, behavioural, philosophical and physical information and this is the information which enables persons to select their ideal egg donor. Egg donors’ responsibility ends on the day of egg retrieval and there is no registry and no means to contact the egg donor later in life. Recipients are also protected and can elect to keep all details of the conception via egg donation a private matter from loved ones and of course the child conceived via egg donation. This serves to protect persons and empower them. THe ultimate goal of becoming a parent without further complications can be reached with ease.
Persons who normally require egg donation as a form of fertility treatment or supporting their IVF are those who have reached advanced maternal age, generally woman start to consider egg donation in their late 30’s upon a professional opinion. Egg donation is also recommended if people have had several failed treatments with their own eggs or have chromosomal or genetic challenges that they wish to end with the solution of egg donation. Another reason is the onset of premature ovarian failure, menopause, or ealy menopause. Egg donation means that the answer or ‘you cannot have children’ is replaced with “via the amazing new treatments involving egg donation and the selection of an egg donor who is a close resemblance to you, you can conceive and there is hope’. These are very different answers and result in new life and happiness, which is what this is really all about.
The world is different today. More advanced and more mature decisions are being made and the downside of this is that conception is delayed and their fertility may be lost. Partners may only be met later in life and/ or people want to prepare for their future and offer their offspring the best by saving and planning. Sometimes when that time has arrived, it is too late to conceive with one’s own eggs.
The increase in need for egg donation is an interesting subject for debate. Is it due to increase in infertility or due to an increase in the acceptance of egg donation as a means to conceive and therefore its availability. I personally think it is a combination of the two options. On a deeper level, it is a very special way of uniting people and letting us realise we really are in this life together and we owe it to one another to help where we can. It has also been an eye opener to see the joy and honour egg donors have felt when asked to donate their eggs. The have seen this as a calling and a purpose. It is also a chance for their lives to be healed.
The actual egg donation process is inself, reasonably short lived. An egg donor can be medically and psychologically assessed and be ready for egg retrieval within a couple of weeks. Her actual participation requires a series of injections to stimulate the ripening of the eggs. It is also important to note that egg donors do not give any more eggs in an egg donor cycle than what they would in a normal month. The medication is an attempt to recover the eggs that would ordinarily have been lost, so no more is taken. It is akin to placing a basket under an apple tree. The apples can be recovered and potentially used, rather than be lost to the earth. Egg donors participate for around 14 days, from the start oft their menstrual cycle until they ovulate, around day 14. This process is after the menstrual cycles have been aligned and all parties have agreed to the dates. The actual egg retrieval process is under sedation or anaesthetic and eggs are retrieved from the follicles, which are hair like structures, that develope at the end of the ovaries. Eggs are retrieved with a catheter vaginally and essentially sucked from the follicles. This process marks the end of the egg donor’s participation.
The recipient’s partner’s sperm fertilises these eggs. The sperm is very often frozen and so recipients need minimal days for an egg donor programme in South Africa. This is usually a day for the scan, to confirm the readiness of the uterus and then the transferring of the developed embryos, usually five days after the retrieval. So whilst recipients are encouraged to be in South Africa for around 10 days, they need not be fixed in one spot over this period. It is the ideal opportunity to have a holiday. The body is also best prepared for pregnancy when in a relaxed environment.
A recent recipient advised that whilst she naturally hopes to return home ‘plus one’, the trip to South Africa wil just be so exciting and adventurous, that she is able to be focussed on this element, which provides for a very positive mental outlook.
South African egg donation has grown phenomenally and sought after worldwide. Its professional approach, established ethical guidelines, anonymity, favourable success rates and respected integrity make for a highly viable and feasable solution as an egg donation destination. The increase in egg donations in South Africa have also resulted in the conformance of ethical and professonal guidelines, so recipients are able to check that an egg donation agent is compliant and so afford themselves a level of comfort as to its estalisment.
Egg donation means people are one and we can reach out to each other to fulfil our lives and help each other heal.
baby2mom Egg Donation Agency, www.baby2mom.co.za is a South African compliant egg donor agency, facilitating egg donations in South Africa since 2007 and strongly positioned to offer more information to ensure South African egg donation is understood and people understand the value of this special offering.