As more and more women opt to have babies later in life, falling pregnant becomes more difficult. They may find that the quality of their eggs deteriorates with age and as such conceiving a baby becomes pretty much impossible.
But it’s not only mature women who have problems with their eggs. Some may suffer from premature ovarian failure or chemotherapy, while others may have damaged their ovaries during previous surgeries.
Some women may decide against using their own eggs, for fear of passing on certain genetic material to their babies.
If a woman desperately wants a baby, but cannot use her own eggs, she can opt to use donor eggs.
The process in South Africa is a relatively routine and successful one.
Who qualifies to receive a donated egg?
A woman who
- is menopausal or has a poor ovarian reserve
- is not falling pregnant despite repeated IVF treatments
- is not responding to drugs used in IVF
- has had her ovaries removed during surgery
Who donates these eggs?
Egg donors are generally young women, aged between 20 and 34, who undergo thorough tests before becoming donors. They’ll fill in questionnaires about:
- medical, surgical and gynaecological history
- hereditary diseases and disorders in their families
- physical appearance, including hair and eye colour
The donors will also undergo a host of blood and gynaecological tests to eliminate any potential diseases.
It’s often not possible to guarantee that donor eggs will be found immediately, as there’s a general lack of education amongst the public about the benefits of donating eggs. According to Medfem you could wait up to 6 months for eggs.
How do you choose the eggs?
Once a woman has decided that she would like to have a baby, using donor eggs, she’ll have to visit a fertility specialist, who will facilitate the process. According to South African law, egg donors must remain anonymous, but you can work through an agency that will allow you to choose a profile with specific characteristics and history.
The eggs are often frozen and kept at the local cryobank.
Laws surrounding egg donation
By law a person cannot profit from donating her eggs, but can instead be compensated for medical, transport and time away from work.
The donor will be paid approximately R6000 once the eggs have been removed.
According to the Children’s Act, the birth mother is the legal mother of the child. This means that once the donor has handed over her eggs, she no longer has any rights or responsibilities to the baby.
The donor and the mother will have to sign a legal document, acknowledging that they understand the legal aspects of egg donation.
According to the Cape Fertility Clinic, R30 000 will be needed to pay for the donors tests, her medication, the egg retrieval in theatre, the basic IVF lab fees and the consultations and scans.
Additional fees for other procedures
- Donor fee to cover her costs R5 700
- Medication for mother receiving donated eggs
- ICSI R4 000
- Embryo Freezing R1 500
- Monthly storage fee R50
- Frozen embryo transfer, excluding medication R3 500
So the decision has been made to use donor eggs, the finances have been calculated and paid and all the legal work has been completed, what now?
A woman receiving donated eggs will undergo a normal IVF(in vitro fertilisation) procedure. This involves fertilising the eggs in a laboratory with sperm from the woman’s partner or a donor. The fertilised eggs, or embryos, would then be implanted into the woman’s womb 3 – 5 days later.
How successful is the procedure?
If the donor is young, the mother will have a 45% and 50% success rate. But the woman receiving the eggs would also have to consider her fertility problems, which could play a role in whether or not the procedure is successful.