Egg donation is not a new term, but it certainly is becoming more accepted and understood of late. Egg donations are an especially attractive option for a number of positive reasons.
South Africa is the hub of egg donor programs in Africa and certainly becoming a popular attraction for Australians, Europeans and even Americans.
In South Africa, egg donor programs are governed by guidelines to which professional egg donor agencies are required to comply.
Essentially, egg donation is an option available to persons who are infertile because they have a poor or absent ovarian reserve, predisposition to a genetic disorder or other reason rendering their eggs unsuitable to procreate. The solution of egg donation is an answer to an otherwise impossible problem; it gives the chance for a dream to be realised and affords an opportunity for hope.
Egg donors (giving of themselves) offering this solution remain anonymous and confidential in South Africa. The number of times egg donors can donate is limited to ensure that they always produce optimal quality and quantity eggs. This is also to protect them medically. They undergo extensive medical and psychological screening and commit to an egg donor program in writing. South African egg donors are discouraged from travelling abroad for egg donor programs. South African egg donors have full access to professional and experienced fertility specialists within South African borders ensuring their protection and confirming that processes are undertaken with a minimum level of care and ethical guideline.
Egg donors' actual participation on an egg donation program involves partaking of the oral contraceptive for a couple of weeks to align the menstrual cycles of the egg donor with the recipient. It is important to remember that two bodies are being used to create one baby (or potentially multiples). Egg donors inject themselves into their stomach with a small needle daily for two weeks. This medication helps all the follicles to mature as many eggs as possible.
In a normal cycle, only one egg is released from the follicles, which under perfect circumstances can become a baby. The other eggs, not matured, are simply lost or absorbed into the body. The hormones injected attempt to make all eggs viable for fertilisation and therefore give the recipient an improved chance of conception.
Egg donors usually ovulate around day 14 on which day the vaginal egg retrieval happens. This is a process of donor egg extraction either under anaesthetic or sedation with a catheter. The eggs are retrieved ever so carefully and placed in a medium (which mimics the uterus) alongside the prepared sperm and fertilisation occurs. Some clinics proceed with ICSI for every egg donor program, which means that the sperm is individually injected into every donor egg, aiding the fertilisation process.
This is the end of the commitment for the egg donor on such an egg donor program and it is at this juncture that nature or the divine decides on the further development of the fertilised eggs (embryos) and the potential for this fertilised egg to become a person.
The number of eggs produced in an egg donor cycle can vary from 0 to in excess of 30. The norm is around 11, but it is important to draw attention to the fact that the quality is more important than the quantity. It is usual for two embryos to be transferred into the recipient's prepared uterine lining.
There is no egg donor registry in South Africa so recipients can elect to keep the egg donor program completely private - and so egg donation children are protected in this fashion too. Egg donors know that they can give this amazingly special gift without any further responsibility. This affords a win-win solution for all parties.