Egg donation is an extraordinary life changing gift that offers hope
to woman who previously thought they could never have children. But what is the process of receiving donor
eggs and the legalities involves? Here
egg donor expert, Jenny Currie from baby2mom answers your questions and clarifies the concept of egg donation explained.
What are the chances of a successful pregnancy when using a donor
Egg Donation Programmes have a success rate of about 48%; however
this figure can vary depending on sperm quality and uterine readiness.
Embryos are individual beings, so even with perfect conditions, they may not
actually develop into a baby. Egg donation is about giving a chance where
there is no chance with the recipient’s own eggs.
Is there a waiting list for donor eggs?
Depending on the specific egg donor agency with whom recipients are
working, there should not be a waiting list for egg donors. The norm is
that egg donor recipients are provided with immediate online access to a donor
database of egg donors, with options to consider elements such as race, physical traits,
reproductive information and personality traits. It may be that there is
a waiting period for a specific profile of egg donor. E.g. in some
countries there may be a scarcity of egg donors of a particular race group.
Is there an age limit to be a donor egg recipient and if so why?
South African guidelines for egg donation emphasise that special
consideration should be given to couples where the female recipient’s age is
greater than 50 years. For this reason some clinics enforce a cut off age
of 50. This is to protect the health of the woman as she may not be
medically suitable to carry a baby after this age, compromising her overall
How long will it take to plan my donor program and what should my
first step be?
Typically, a two month period is required to plan a donor
As menstrual cycles can be manipulated, the timing can really be
to the recipient’s specifications. Usually donor programs are planned
three month period, but with the consent of all parties, planning can
beyond this time frame. So after the egg donor’s screening, recipients
given exact dates to allow appropriate planning arrangements to be
made. During the egg donor program, egg donation explained is made
clear to persons involved and they are kept abreast throughout.
Is egg donation expensive, what are the costs for egg donation and
what does this cover?
In addition to a regular IVF fee, additional costs for egg donation
include screening assessments (psychological and medical) for the egg donor,
ultrasounds for egg donors to assess egg development (this is in addition to
the uterine assessment scans performed on the egg recipient), donor donation
(which in South Africa is a fixed amount paid via the fertility clinic),
possible donor travel costs (depending on the donor’s situation) and donor
agency fees (to facilitate the egg donor program). Essentially egg
donation in South Africa is a very viable, feasible and affordable
Do I need to be medically confirmed to receive donor eggs and if so
where do I go to get the required tests?
To optimise the process for egg donation, women as recipients of
donor eggs should have necessary medical tests. Men, whose sperm will be
fertilising the eggs, should also have specific tests done. Recipients can
submit required medical results to fertility specialists in person or online to
confirm that that their body is in an optimal space to receive donor eggs.
Do I need to worry about the legal requirements and contractual
obligations in the donor process?
No, a professional egg donation agency will take care of any such
details and ensures compliance with the legalities of the country as well as
any governing guidelines.
I've read online that I need to match my blood group to that of the
egg donors, is this correct?
No, matching of blood types does not influence the outcome at
all. Blood groups are really provided for information purposes so that
recipients have access to all information.
Is egg donation governed in South Africa?
Yes, ethical guidelines exist in South Africa to govern the process
of egg donation. Recipients of donor eggs are recommended to only work
through reputable and professional egg donation agencies that are in compliance
of the requirements of the
South African Society for Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological
Endoscopy (SASREG). These specify certain work ethics, such as the number
of donations, information that needs to be provided to be egg donors and
recipients, screening processes of egg donation, advertising for egg donors as
well as the egg donor donation.
Will I meet my egg donor?
No, egg donation in South Africa is completely anonymous and
confidential, for this reason South Africa is a highly sought after destination
for egg donation worldwide. There is no egg donor registry, so egg donor
recipients are fully empowered to keep the decision of egg donation completely
confidential. The egg donor will not be able to trace the egg donation.
In keeping with the anonymity, only childhood pictures of the donors, up
to the age of 10 are provided. Unfortunately some egg donors do not have
access to these, so no pictures will be available. The egg donor’s
responsibility and participation ends on the day of egg retrieval with the full
understanding that no further involvement is required and that children conceived
of her egg donation cannot look her up in any way. The egg donor agency
is happy to facilitate this interaction, as long as it is anonymous.
What screening is carried out on an egg donor, are there both
physical and psychological tests?
Full psychological assessments, blood tests and an internal
ultrasound are performed. Hormonal blood levels are tested to confirm the egg
donors’ suitability to produce good quality eggs, in addition HIV status is
also checked. If a recipient elects for a donor to be tested for other
aspects these can be undertaken. Professional egg donor agents do not
recruit donors to their database if they have a medical history of
predisposition to genetic disorders such as club foot, haemophilia, bipolar
How do I select an egg donor, what should I be looking for, can I
get help with this?
Refer to the online egg donor database and consider what is
important to you. For some recipients physical match is important. Other
recipients elect to match personality, interests, academic, religious or other
aspects. At the end of the day this is a personal decision and recipients are encouraged
to be guided by their heart to select the right egg donor. The egg donor agent
should be willing to assist with recommendations.
Will my child take on my traits with donor eggs?
From conception and throughout life a child witnesses their parents’
behaviour and therefore your own traits and mannerisms will be visible in your
child. Aspects that are genetically influenced will stem from the egg
donor and not the recipient as the latter does not influence the genes of the
child in any way.
Will I be able to breastfeed if I receive donor eggs, there is
conflicting opinion on the internet?
Of course recipients can and are encouraged to breastfeed.
Other than the recipient’s ovary not producing the egg, all aspects about
the pregnancy are the same. Breastfeeding actually encourages further
bonding and provides the new infant with all required nutrition to start life.
Should I select an egg donor with proven fertility, i.e. a donor who
has donated successfully before and/or has children of their own?
A careful screening of the ovarian reserve of the egg donor is more
important than their fertility history. It is not necessary to select an
egg donor who has a history of fertility, these facts are provided for
information only. Every woman is different and every cycle is different. Egg donors may respond differently to
artificial stimulation than to natural fertility.
What happens if my egg donor is found not suitable?
It may happen the egg donor is declined psychologically and or
medically and these aspects can only be confirmed at the time of such
professional assessments. These screenings are controls to give the
recipient the very best of chance of conception with donor eggs. In the
event of the donor not being advised to proceed, the egg donation agency will
assist you in finding a new egg donor or you as the recipient can select a new
egg donor from the database.
Would my egg donor donate continuously, is there a limit or can they
donate as many time as they wish?
No, egg donors donate a maximum of 6 times or to the extent that 6
children are conceived of egg donation.
Jenny Currie is the founder and owner of dynamic egg donation agency