How egg donation can help create a perfect match in parenthood

by Antonella Dési
Egg donation - BabyYumYum
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Embarking on the path to parenthood often involves navigating a variety of options, and for some, egg donation is a heartfelt consideration. Antonella Dési explores the nuances of choosing an egg donor.

In South Africa, where the cultural tapestry is as rich as the landscapes are diverse, selecting the perfect egg donor is a deeply personal and significant step.

Connecting with fertility specialists

Choosing the right fertility specialists is crucial in the selection of an egg donor. These experienced professionals will guide you through legal, medical, and emotional complexities, ensuring a seamless journey. Their insights, expertise, and support contribute significantly to making informed decisions and piloting the intricate process with confidence and success.

Success rate

When asked about the success rate in terms of successful egg donation cycles, Tertia Albertyn from the Nurture Egg Donor Program, which has been in the business for over 16 years, explains that the pregnancy rate is very much clinic-dependent: “The success rate of egg donor IVF is dependent on a few factors, including the egg and sperm quality, the health of the womb, the competency and skill of the lab scientists, and the lab equipment. Overall, Nurture has a 60% to 70% success rate with our egg donor IVF cycles.”

Also read: The real story of an egg donor

Delving into donor profiles

When selecting your donor, you get to select from several possible candidates, and you will need to carefully examine each candidate’s profile – from physical characteristics to educational pursuits and personal hobbies.

Jenny Currie, from the baby2mom egg donation agency, says that it can be very difficult to decide which donor to use, and offers this advice: “Look at the donor profiles…so that you can select a donor that resonates most with you and your partner.” She offers some key aspects to consider when reviewing egg donor profiles:

  • Appearance: Consider physical features such as race, height, weight, hair colour, eye colour, and overall appearance.
  • Medical history: Look for information on the donor’s family medical history to assess potential genetic factors.
  • Educational background: Consider the donor’s education level, as it may give you insights into her intellectual abilities and interests.
  • Occupation and interests: Consider the donor’s occupation and hobbies to get a sense of her personality, values, and interests.
  • Health and lifestyle: Assess the donor’s overall health, including lifestyle choices such as diet, exercise, and any history of substance use.
  • Genetic history: Examine the donor’s family history for any genetic disorders or conditions that may be of concern. A detailed family medical history can be crucial.
  • Personality traits: Some profiles may include information about the donor’s personality traits. Consider whether these align with your preferences and values.
  • Donor’s motivation: Understanding why a donor has chosen to participate can provide insight into her motivation and commitment to the process.
  • Previous donor cycles: If applicable, review any information about the donor’s previous donation cycles, including the number of successful pregnancies.
  • Screening and testing: Confirm that the donor has undergone thorough screening and testing for infectious diseases and genetic disorders. This information is typically provided in the profile.

Check out: A message for those struggling with infertility

Donor screening procedure

Donor screening is crucial for egg donors to ensure physical and mental fitness, prevent hereditary issues, and safeguard the well-being of both donors and recipients in the egg donation process. Tertia explains that it is crucial that possible recipients thoroughly investigate what the screening process of each agency entails.

She outlines the process at Nurture: “The basic requirements are outlined on our website. If applicants meet these initial requirements, they proceed to a comprehensive 13-page application covering physical traits, personality, education, and medical and family history. We are very strict – in 16 years, we have vetted over 30,000 initial applicants: of which, only 15,000 donors progressed to the full application stage.

Donor screening procedure“The submitted applications undergo careful review by various professionals, ensuring no disqualifying factors. Approved applicants move to a one-on-one interview, and undergo psychological and medical assessments, ensuring mental and physical fitness. The psychological assessment focuses on counselling, evaluating emotional capacity, and assessing potential psychological harm. The medical assessment includes health checks, ultrasounds, and blood tests for infectious diseases.”

Embarking on a legal & ethical journey

Selecting an egg donor in South Africa entails adherence to legal and ethical guidelines. The legislation regarding egg donation applies to all entities engaged in the process, including egg donation agencies, clinics, donors, and recipients.

  • Children’s Act (Act 38 of 2005): In South Africa, Egg Donation is regulated by the National Health Act of 2003, Chapter 8, prohibiting the sale of donor eggs. Egg Donation Agencies must comply with South African law, preventing egg trafficking. Agency fees cover service delivery, ensuring the independence of egg donors, and safeguarding both donors and recipients.
  • Tissue Act (Act 65 of 1983): Chapter 5 of the Human Tissue Act 65 of 1983, Section 33, prohibits revealing the identity of living donors without written consent. South African law mandates non-disclosure of egg donor identities for anonymity. Childhood pictures can be shared, but direct meetings between recipients and donors are not allowed, to ensure confidentiality.
  • National Health Act (Act 61 of 2003): Chapter 8 of the Human Tissue Act (Act 65 of 1983) oversees the control of blood, tissue, and gametes. Section 33 prohibits disclosing information about living donors without written consent. Section 57 bans reproductive cloning, with exceptions for therapeutic cloning. Section 58 regulates tissue removal and transplantation, requiring hospital authorization. Section 60 prohibits payment for tissue, blood, or gametes, except for reasonable costs. Section 63 permits donation to prescribed institutions. Section 65 allows donors to revoke donations before transplantation.

Read more on Becoming an egg donor

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