After years of not being able to fall
pregnant more South African women are turning to egg donation IVF to become a mother. Dominique Oosthuizen explores how through egg
donation women struggling to fall pregnant can have children.
the gift of life
Slowly the eggs
(oocytes) are extracted through the vagina of the donor with a small needle. These
eggs are her hope for a family. These
eggs carry her dream to become a mother.
carefully fertilised in an in vitro fertilisation (IVF) laboratory with her
husband’s sperm. The embryos are then cultured and grown over the next few days
until the doctor cautiously transfer the embryos into her womb.
From this fertilised embryo, this life being will develop. From these two layers
of cells a little miracle will form.
“When I saw their heartbeats for the first
time it was surreal,” tells a donor egg recipient.
“I cried and I
cried and I cried. Finally! Finally it was my turn to become a mother.”
As she had only
disclosed to her close family and friends of her journey with egg donation IVF
the recipient decided to remain anonymous.
“There was no black and white explanation of
why I could not conceive children, but I was determined to be a mother.
“Through the donation
someone was able to give me such a selfless gift,” she says with great
thankfulness to the anonymous donor.
laughs and adds, “The donor actually gave me twice the gift — she
gave me twins. She helped me reach a dream that I once thought was
agencies: collectors of apples
“The process of donating eggs can be compared
to the collection of fruit,” says Jenny Currie, the owner of baby2mom, a company
that facilitates the egg donation process by co-ordinating the donor and the
“Every month a woman
loses a certain amount of eggs — just as an apple tree will lose
apples,” she explains.
“But, if you
stand there with a basket to collect the apples it just means that they are
going to good use. Those who are not collected will fall to the earth and rot.”
She says that
instead of losing your eggs through menstruation they can rather be collected
and put to good use.
is an extraordinary life-changing gift. It is a gift that offers hope to women
who previously thought they could never have children.”
Currie, women who are in good health and who do not have any genetic illnesses
or concerns can donate their eggs.
as baby2mom have online databases where possible
recipients can look at a profile of all the possible donors.
“The donor’s profile,
will among others, provide a recipient with information about the donor’s
physical profile, education/ occupation, and behavioural traits,” she explains.
Adding that, the donor’s identity will remain anonymous.
“When a donor
commits to donating her eggs she has the ethical responsibility to participate
in the process as instructed,” says Currie.
“When the donor
completes the process and does what is expected of her, she will receive a
donation of R6,000 as approved by the South African Health Department.”
that it is a donation and not a payment. “It is a gift for the donor’s effort and the time the donor had put into someone else’s
Currie the donor has no rights towards a child that is conceived through egg
“South African law says that the birth mother
holds all the rights and responsibility when it comes to the child. Legally the
child is the recipient’s child.”
the ultimate gift
“We are born with over 2 million eggs and we
lose them during our lifetime,” says Jamaine Krige, an egg donor who has
donated eggs twice. “If they are going to be lost why not give them to someone
that can benefit from it?
“We all know someone that is struggling to
have a baby. While having children is not a priority for me right now — I know the importance that it carries
to a lot of women,” she says.
“For the recipient it means the world. You
are helping them get the family they have always wanted.”
explains that egg donation is an important process. “Unlike adoption or
surrogacy it actually affords the women (mom to be) a chance to play a part in the process
of giving birth to her baby.
“The donor might provide the genetic
material for conception, but the recipient still carries the baby. She still
nurtures the baby in her womb.
“She plays a vital part in bringing the
baby in to this life.”
Dr Paul le Roux,
a reproductive medicine specialist at Cape Fertility Clinic, says that infertility
exists when a women is unable to conceive after 12 months of unprotected
“Ovarian failure may be due to previous chemotherapy,
radiotherapy and/or prior surgery,” he says.
Adding that infertility can also be due to poor egg quality because of
age related deterioration or due to inherited genetic conditions.
According to Le
Roux one in every three women, above the age of 40,
will not be able to conceive naturally and will need fertility treatment in
order to get pregnant.
Le Roux explains that once an egg-recipient has found
a donor, either through a donor agency or through someone they know, both the
donor and the recipient will see a fertility specialist for treatment.
“The recipient will have medication
to prepare her womb lining for the embryo transfer, while the donor will
have medication to grow the eggs. The donor will have to take daily
injections of Follicle-stimulating Hormone (FSH) for approximately 10 days,” he
“The donor will then be monitored
with trans-vaginal ultrasound every couple of days until the eggs are
ready to be extracted.”
According to Le Roux the IVF success rate in South
Africa is approximately 35% per embryo transfer.
reproductive specialist says egg donors should preferably between the age of 21
and 34 as “any eggs of a donor, older than 34, might decrease the success rate
of the IVF”.
says for health reason the South African Society of Reproductive Medicine and
Gynaecological Endoscopy (SASREG) suggest that oocyte donors should be limited
to 6 donations.
risks for the egg donor are generally small, but risks may include ovarian
hyper-stimulation syndrome, pelvic infection, ovarian torsion, intra-abdominal
bleeding, loss of future fertility and anaesthetic complications,” says Le
A mother’s last words
mother is a woman who will love her children unconditionally until her last
breath,” says the egg donor recipient.
mother you choose to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your
own. As a mother you will have your patience tested to the ends of the earth.
will learn about your personal strengths you did not know you had and you will
deal with fears you did not know existed. No greater privilege exists.
Everybody deserves to be a mother.”