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Legal and Ethical Controversies of Gamete Donation

At the 2015 SASREG conference, Melodie Slabbert from Unisa presented South Africa's legal and ethical framework pertaining to gamete donation guided by:
  • The South African constitution
  • Chapter 8 of the national Health Act and Regulations pertaining to artificial fertilisation and Regulations pertaining to the use of human tissue
  • Common law 
  • Relevant sections of the Children's Act and
  • SASREG guidelines.


Issues discussed included:

Gender selection - which is no longer persmitted

Limiting number of offspring per egg donor - this is set at 6 children conceived per egg donor's donations, although suggestions that this number is increased to six families may be considered.  Each country determines their own limits based on its population.

Ethical issues around owning embryos and the parties involved in conception.



The gamete (egg) donor, recipient, fertility clinic, egg donation agency, child to be conceived and the general public at large are considered parties involved.

Only competent persons, i.e those registered in the Health Professions Act who have met certain criteria may remove gametes.



There is not currently a cental or national database of donors who have achieved the maximm number of live births from egg donations.



Egg donor compensation is set at R7,000 for a donation.  Other payments to donors are for out of pocket expenses, such as travel costs.  It is imperative to understand that egg donation is essentially an ultruistic act.  The compensation is not based on the number of eggs retrieved.




The selling of gametes was discussed and confirmed that no profit may be derived from this.



Ethical egg donor agencies - employees of egg donors may not be egg donors.  Jenny Currie, owner of baby2mom, is not an egg donor!  All financial interests in egg donor agencies should be transparent and clearly known.  There should also not be any financial interest between egg donation agency and fertility clinic.



Egg donation agencies have a very facilitative role, ensuring open communication between all role players and supporing the smooth flow of the process.



Egg donation outside of South Africa - this topic was stressed and sadly received negative connotations recently.  Whilst individuals have freedom of movement, ladies should be cautioned to understand whethere sufficient after care and appropriate medical care is provided in jurisdictions outside of South Africa.