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Egg Donation in South Africa

In the July 2015 issue of babys and Beyond...


Egg donation is a solution to persons who have no other recourse to conceive.  It is a chance where there is no other.

 

The field has increased in awareness and popularity in the last decade.

 

South Africa has established a very reputable and ethical base of egg donation practices and principles making our country a sought after destination for these very services from persons from all corners of the earth.  Professional medical care coupled with high success rates for treatments at the key cities in South Africa is also highly advantageous for persons wishing to include medical travel with some leisure time.

 

We have a very advantageous system of providing extensive information about egg donors, but not to the extent that confidential and identifying information is compromised.  This means that recipients receive adequate content of their anonymous egg donor and the latter has the reassurance of knowing that her responsibility about her good deed ends on the day her donor eggs are retrieved.  She is not obliged to be available in the future and has the comfort of knowing that any child(ren) conceived of such egg donation will never be able to contact her.  This is the basis upon which South African egg donations are managed, supporting the concept of anonymous tissue donation.   To understand further – this is anonymous in terms of identifying details, but known in terms of physical traits, academic and personality traits.  No adult pictures of egg donors are divulged.  Recipients only have access to childhood pictures of egg donors.   This is a highly attractive option for both egg donors and recipients who can then continue their lives in privacy, with the focus on helping namelessly for egg donors and becoming parents for recipients.

 

Ethically, egg donation in South Africa takes on a kind and gentle vive.  Egg donors are given a donation (amount approved by the Department of Health) for their participation and devotion to the process and appointments.  This keeps the motivation on an ultruistic and loving nature.  The profit and greed incentive is completely removed.  Financially, the process is therefore viable and affordable by comparison to other areas in the world.

 

The increased popularity of egg donation is due to a change in lifestyles, information and understanding of egg donation.  People are living longer, so the option to start a family later in life becomes more feasible and accepting.  A fast paced life also forces people to focus on careers fully delaying the decision to start a family.  At such a point, woman may find their fertility levels have declined and they need to consider egg donation.  This typically happens from late 30’s.

 

Finding the ideal life partner may only happen later in life when women’s egg reserves have been depleted.   Many cases have also surfaced where second relationships have been initiated later in life and one of the partners does not have children.  The desire to have a family of this union compels people to consider egg donation as the solution to conceive.

 

Increasing male homosexual couples and single men are seeking to have families through the assistance of surrogacy egg donation.

 

Woman are born with a fixed ovarian reserve and this ‘basket’ depletes throughout life due to eggs being lost in the monthly cycle, exposure to pollution, auto immune disease, etc.   Accordingly, around late 30’s, egg donation is encouraged as a means to conceive to limit excessive fertility treatments with own eggs.

 

Woman who are carriers of genetic concerns who seek not to recreate these challenges also look to egg donation as a means to stop such.  The beauty of these processes really comes to a notion of giving and understanding, really improving life.  An egg donor, who was actually conceived through egg donation too, elected to help because she was grateful that her parents took the effort to stop the genetic hearing problem in their family.  She looks at her older sibling with a hearing struggle, conceived naturally, and knows that her parents considered another option to prevent her from inheriting this same disability.

 

Egg donors are woman aged between 18 and 34, with a healthy BMI and who have the ability to contribute in a mature and disciplined manner.  All egg donors have an appointment with a psychologist and have appropriate medical screening and counseling before embarking on the process of donating their eggs.  Full and dedicated support is offered to the donors.  

 

The process of donating eggs involves a facilitation of synchronizing menstrual cycles between recipient and egg donor so that the bodies are behaving as one.  Ordinarily the uterus and ovaries work together to get ready for pregnancy, now the readiness of uterus of the recipient has to be aligned with the ovarian function of the egg donor.  An egg donor has to avail herself for about three scans during the two week process during which the eggs are stimulated to ripen.  This is undertaken by injections.  It is important to note that an egg donor will shed the same amount of eggs during an egg donation cycle as a normal cycle.  The purpose of the treatment/ injections is to aid the ripening.  In a natural cycle, it is predicted that hundreds of unripe are simply lost.

 

The egg retrieval is a vaginal process of sucking the eggs from the follicles of the ovaries.  Whilst the egg cell is one of the largest cells in the human body, it is still only about 10% of 1mm.  The egg retrieval does not involve an operation and egg donors are not cut, but sedated to reduce the discomfort of the process.

 

The eggs are then fertilized by the sperm and grown in a medium that mimics the uterine environment for a couple of days, then transferred into the recipient.  A pregnancy test is done about two weeks later and the recipient is able to enjoy the full benefit of being a mom, including breastfeeding and preferred type of birth – where possible.

 

Whilst egg donation is a medical process largely, there is a significant emotional involvement that is key.  In over eight years of egg donation facilitations, I have found that egg donors and recipients love to send messages and care to one another - anonymously.  They want to know how the other is coping, they want to send letters, wishes and hopes.  They will not meet, but they shed tears of emotion together – at the news of joy or loss.  They are connected in a way, that is so special.  There is a spiritual and emotional connection.  Egg donation is a way for people to care and unite.

 

By Jenny Currie, founder and owner of baby2mom Egg Donation Agency, www.baby2mom.co.za





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