- Why do women need donor eggs? Woman need donor eggs when they have
depleted their own ovarian reserve due to age, illness or unknown
reasons. It may be that woman enter premature ovarian failure, meaning
that the ovaries fail too early so woman of usual fertile ages cannot
conceive. People also consider egg donation when they are predisposed to
genetic concerns and do not want to reproduce with their own genes
knowing that the chances of recreating this possible condition are high
- For someone that knows nothing about this process, how would you explain it in simple terms?
donation is an anomyous and safe process whereby woman aged between 18
and 34 come forward to make themselves available for confidential egg
donation to help persons otherwise unable to conceive. It is a
specialised type of fertility treatment undertaken in the major centres
in South Africa.
Egg donation is an amazing deed. It is an
opportunity for woman to give to one another and to make a living
donation. It is about fertile ladies donating their eggs safely to
another person, without adversely impacting on their own fertility or
ovarian reserve. Every month woman loose a certain number of eggs and
the process of donating eggs can be compared to fruit. An apple tree
will drop the apples regardless (as will the eggs be released and leave
the body). The treatment taken by an egg donor is like putting a basket
under the tree. It is a means to recover some of the eggs that the body
These retrieved eggs are then donated to a
needing recipient after the latter has selected and asked the donor to
help – facilitated via the agency . With careful synchrinsation of the
menstrual cycles, the reproductive cycles of the recipient and donor are
aligned. V a In normal cases, the body produces the egg and prepares
the uterus to hold the embryo. Now we need to align two bodies to behave
The fertilised eggs (termed embryos after being put
together with the sperm) are then implanted into the prepared uterus of
The egg donor neither has further rights nor
responsibilities after the donation process and the recipient is fully
empowered to keep all details completely confidential. There is no means
for recipient and donor to meet or engage in any way.
donor contributes to a very special process and needs to be completely
committed as there are often significant accessory costs for a recipient
to partake in this treatment. These possibly extend to needing a
surrogate (legal and medical costs around this process), flights and
accommodation in addition to the medical costs.
- Has the need for donor eggs risen? Why?
need for donor eggs has definitely increased because many recipients
have waited until they are more emotionally and financially established
to start a family. This may mean that they have compromised their
fertility in the interim.
Second relationships in families also
result in recipients considering egg donation to conceive as they have
passed their natural fertile years.
Increased awareness of egg donation in general makes recipients more willing and open to consider the option of egg donation.
levels of infertility in naturally fertile years in modern era due to a
variety of reasons - stress, hormones in food, pollution, etc.
Increasing acceptance of single men to conceive – requiring donor eggs (and surrogacy)
Male gay couples requiring donor eggs (and surrogacy)
What are the associated costs? Fertility clinic costs, screening fees
for an egg donor, agency fees and potential travel reimbursement costs
for an egg donor.
- What are the risks/ success rates? These are
roughly 50%. Success rates are influenced and impacted by uterine
readiness and sperm quality. A good percerntage of all embryos are
inherently abnormal in any event, so even in perfect circumstances (egg,
sperm and uterus), a negative result may be the outcome. A significant
aspect to understand about egg donation is that egg donation gives
recipients a chance and hope to conceive and without these options there
is no opportunity for such.
- What is the most common misconception
about egg donation and using donor eggs? A judgemental view about
persons going out of their way to conceive in this fashion, whilst
children's homes are full. Another view is that this is not a normal
process and if people are infertile, that is their fate and it should be
accepted. Of course, egg donation is a very personal decision and
persons embark on this route for unique reasons. Another notion is that
egg donation is not widely accepted in certain cultures. The response on
this view is that although egg donation is becoming an increasing
solution to persons needing this type of treatment, egg donation remains
a highly private and confidential process. It is most unlikely that
recipients share the details of their conception - being through donor
eggs – except occasionally with closest loved ones. In my experience it
is really a handful of recipients that share the egg donation
contribution with even their parents. South Africans have a culture of
privacy and recipients have generally advised that the child will not be
privy to these facts as well.
Proceeding with an egg donor
means that the conception details can be kept confidential and private
from all but the intimate parties involved. Further benefits include the
contribution of sperm meaning that the child is genetically related to
one of the parents. For the mother, the great benefit and experience of
being pregnant and carrying this child cannot be stated strongly enough.
So whilst egg donation, being a recipient or a donor, may not
be appropriate not right for everyone, it certainly does heal hearts and
provide a spiritual lift. One of my donors was recently asked to donate
her eggs. She was so excited as she was in a very low space in her
life, having just lost a loved one and her being selected gave meaning
and purpose to this stage of her life. For her to inconvenience herself
gave her a reason to feel special and helped with the healing. So it is
only in walking in the thickest of the forest, that you get to see the
tiny beautiful flowers. From a distance, you see the picture, not the
- How do you choose your donor? What information are you
allowed to know about them? Is medical history important? The selection
of an egg donor is a personal choice and every recipient identifies
their preferred egg donor based on individual criteria. Aspects people
often consider include physical traits, qualifications, religious
affiliation, specific cultural interests, location and health aspects.
Recipients are afforded access to a full detailed profile of all egg
donors, these include detailed physical traits, behavioural traits,
family background, medical history, philosophical views, education etc.
The recipient's unique circumstances also sternly influence the required
criteria. E.g a strong prevalence of blue eyes, a specific height, skin
complexion or hair type may be imperative. If recipients have a strong
exposure to a certain health concern on their own side or on the
father's side, they may require an clean absence of any such concerns.
So the selection and criteria really differ for all persons based on
their circumstances. In many cases, it is a connection that the
recipient makes when she reads the donor's profile, making an emotional
or other association and therefore feels that such a donor is right for
her. Other persons may take on a more analytical approach, studying
finer details of perhaps the phsyical or educational aspects.
Now on to the donor, do they have any rights over the child? No, egg
donation is confidential and anonymous in South Africa. The birth mother
has all legal rights and responsibilities. The egg donor's
responsibilities ends on the day of egg donation.
- What happens
to eggs that are not used? All eggs are fertilised. After a couple of
days, usually three to five, usually two embryos are transferred into
the recipient. Any remaining viable embryos may be frozen.