I thought, while we’re waiting, we could take a moment here to go through some of the FAQs around the process of egg donation …
What is an egg donor?
An egg donor is a healthy young woman who is between the ages of twenty and thirty four. This special woman donates a few of her eggs to a recipient who strongly desires to have a child but who is unable to produce eggs from her own ovaries. Following their removal, the eggs are fertilized with the recipient’s male partner’s sperm or with donor sperm. The resulting embryos are then placed into the recipient’s uterus. She then has the amazing opportunity of becoming pregnant, carrying, and delivering a child to finally create the family she has so long hoped for. A donor gives one of the most beautiful gifts possible—the gift of potentially growing a family. Egg donors are so special in fact, that they get front row seats and houses with sea views up in heaven.
Why would someone need an egg donor?
The recipient of donor egg(s) is someone who desires to have a child but is unable to produce viable eggs from her own ovaries. Various reasons a woman might not be able to produce eggs include premature ovarian failure, infertility due to poor egg quality or age, severe endometriosis, genetic disorders that she does not want to pass on, or elevated follicle stimulating hormone. Being unable to have a child when you really, really want one is heartbreaking. Infertility isn’t something we would wish on our worst enemy!
Why should I donate through Nurture?
Because we understand this business of egg donation better than anyone else. Before you come on board, we will have a one-on-one chat with you (unlike other agencies who are too busy/unconcerned and simply communicate via the computer) This gives us the opportunity to explain Egg-zachery how it all works – the good, the bad and the not so ugly! Melany has donated twice herself – although waaaaaaay past her sell by date now, crumbs! We have supported over 600 fabulous donors in 4 years who have signed up and donated through us. We will answer all your questions honestly, and support you all the way through the process. In a nutshell, we care. We call. We write. We call some more. Melany rarely sleeps (we suspect she may be a vampire in disguise)!!!
What is the first step of being an egg donor?
Recipients often look for a donor who matches their physical characteristics. Once you qualify to be an egg donor through our fabulous agency, your information will be placed on our password protected donor list where recipients can view your profile. We are a completely anonymous egg donor agency so your confidential information will not be shared. The Recipients will not know your identity but will know your physical characteristics and any pertinent details of your medical and family history. We need to know that you are not part Vampire like someone else we know. No names mentioned!
What will it be like having my children running around out there?
Think of it this way: Point A: Those eggs you donated? They would have been flushed away with your normal cycle if you hadn’t donated them. Point B: Eggs alone do not a child make! Without the partner’s sperm, and without the future mother’s womb, there aint gonna be no child. So fear not, there aren’t going to be any of ‘your’ children running around any where!
How do people choose a donor?
The factors recipients consider are varied and personal. For some people, things like eye colour, hair colour etc are important. Others couldn’t care less. Some are looking for donors who share similar interests. Actually, it is often the little messages and personal bits that help them decide on the ‘right’ donor for them. It is very important that you complete the application as honestly and thoroughly as possible and provide quality baby photographs of yourself. Those gorgeous baby pics of yourself mean a lot and the recipients appreciate all the information you can provide.
Will donating eggs now affect my chances of getting pregnant in the future?
You are born with approximately two million eggs. Each month a group of eggs enter a growth phase that will ultimately result in ovulation. Normally, your body selects only one egg each cycle to ovulate and the remaining eggs from this group do not develop fully and are flushed down the loo. Fertility medications allow your body to rescue many of those eggs that would have been lost (those rescued ones are the ones you donate!) and do not affect any eggs destined to enter growth phase in future cycles. The fertility medication has no proven long term effects and in fact a recent study has determined that egg donation has no effect on your short term future fertility. For more information click here.
Will it hurt?
Well lets start off with the injections – for the needle phobes – read on…..everyone else, move onto the next q&a! On a scale of 1 to 10 – the thought of what you are going to do (i.e. poke yourself with a needle once a day for the next 2 weeks) is going to be a lot more frightening and painful than the Actual injection. Promise. Moving onto the actual donation process and retrieval…it is impossible for us to anticipate how you – as an individual – are going to feel. You could have zero out of 10 pain or discomfort / 2 out of 10 pain or discomfort / 5 out of 10 pain or discomfort / and (do you see where this is going…..) hopefully not, but you may have 10 out of 10 pain or discomfort. Nothing that a couple of pain killers / hot water bottle and a few hours of zzzzzzzz’s can’t sort out.
What about compensation?
Compensation is guided by the South African Medical Ethics Committee and is currently set at R6000. This compensation paid is not intended to pay for the eggs donated (as donors donate their eggs as a gift of hope), nor for monetary reward. Dudette, you are not ‘selling’ your eggs, you are giving them as a gift to someone else. And for the mission of going to all the appointments and taking your meds like good gals, you will be rewarded on earth (the six thousand ront) and in heaven (front row seats, house with sea view). The payment is recompense for expenses occurred and inconvenience suffered during the donation process. The six grand does not even begin to come close to reflecting the immense gratitude the recipients feel. Their deep appreciation and good wishes for the donor continue for many years.
Do I meet the couple receiving my eggs?
No. Nurture operates within the law – Anonymity is key! No real names – no adult photos. The recipient will not know your identity, only your physical characteristics and the details of your medical history, family history, hobbies, and educational background. Your love of expensive shoes and fear of goggas may also be of interest…so be sure to put all of this info in when completing the application.
Will I know the outcome of the donation?
This is really private stuff, but if the recipient agrees and you really want to know, the doctor will let you know.
Will I have to take time off from my studies or work?
Yes – Once matched, there will be an initial appointment with the doctors at the clinic which will take approximately an hour. In addition to this, you will also have a once off hour visit with a psychologist. During the actual procedure, you will have to go to the clinic at least three to four times for ultrasounds. (This is over a two week period) You will also have to take a day off for egg retrieval. These visits cannot be scheduled for outside of normal working hours or on Saturdays. So ja, you will have to take time off, but not AGES and AGES.
What are the possible side effects?
Let’s get the 2 immediate general concerns out of the way:
1) Am I going to put on weight? Well Girlfriend – you are on medication for 2 weeks…sooooo…I am not quite sure how many kilo’s you can pack on in 14 days, but if it is more than a kilo or two, step awayyyyyyy from the 7th slab of toblerone!
2) Am I going to turn into an emotional basket case / raving ice-pick killer? The doctor’s who we work with are not cowboys, i.e. they are Not pumping you full of hormones so that your body produces kazillions of eggs – They use a very mild/gentle stimulation protocol which is closely monitored. So…if you DO pick up that ice pick and lunge at your partner…me thinks you were predisposed to this kind of behaviour sans hormone medication!
Side effects differ from donor to donor. Some women experience absolutely none. If you are prone to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) you may feel some of the side effects attributed to the injections. These effects are usually mild and may include allergic sensitivity, breast tenderness, abdominal bloating, headaches and/or mood swings. You shouldn’t become too much of a dragon, but if you do, blame it on the hormones! You may gain a kilogram or two, which will only be a temporary weight gain as it is when you have PMS. As with any medical procedure, there is always a miniscule chance of infection, and/or reaction to the anaesthetic medication(s). Bleeding is usually minimal and infection is unlikely as an intravenous antibiotic is routinely administered at the time of the procedure.
What are the risks?
This is the serious bit and we can do Serious. The clinics we work with prefer to have all the steps in place so that none of these nasties happen – Prevention being better than cure! The primary risk is a condition called Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS). This is relatively rare (1% of IVF cases). It is caused by the ovary producing too many eggs in response to the drug stimulation. This is why we make sure that you can get to the clinic for all those important scans – The doctor’s can soon pick up that your ovaries are over zealous – and will adjust the medication accordingly. i.e. lower the medication whilst you are on it. If OHSS does kick in, it normally happens a day or two after the retrieval – you will go from feeling uncomfortable to pretty rotten – You have Melany’s cell number – you will have the doctor’s cell number and if in any doubt, get dialing. Symptoms include feeling nauseous, of extreme bloating and pain. The doctor will ask you to get to the clinic so that he can assess your condition. Normally extra bed rest and a couple of days for your ovaries to shrink back to their normal size is sufficient. IF the doctors are overly concerned, they will check you into the clinic, hook you up to a drip and administer anti-biotics. Basically, your ovaries are swollen, pissed off and they are letting you know all about it. They need an extra bit of TLC and time to shrink back to their normal size. The secondary potential risk is the risk of infection – whether one is having a baby, having an ingrown toe nail cut out, wisdom teeth removed or donating ones precious eggs – there is always a chance of an infection developing. There is NO doctor, agency or clinic that can say “Yes Ma’am – this procedure is 100% safe” (so beware the people who do!) The thing to remember is that the chance of anything going wrong is highly unlikely, but not impossible. Again – what most clinics do – is, whilst you are under having your eggs retrieved, they will administer an anti-biotic shot to counter act that very small risk of infection.
How many times may I donate?
The South African guidelines state that a donor may donate six times or five viable pregnancies. (whichever comes first). This can differ slightly between clinics – depending on their policy. Unlike other agencies who may think that you are a “battery hen”, Nurture believes more in the “free range” approach. So – it is completely up to you as to whether you would like to donate more than once. When you are matched for a donation, we remove your profile from our website. After the donation is completed – if you would like to join the gorgeous and divine Nurture team once more, we will put your profile back on the website a month after your last donation. That way if you get snapped up straight away, you will have had three months break between donations.
What if I’m still not sure…
If your application is successful and you are chosen, you are given the opportunity to chat about these feelings with our counseling psychologist before proceeding. This is a very personal decision, you must be comfortable with it. We will respect whatever you decide and encourage you to take time to make the right decision for you.
Pop over here to read the FAQs asked by recipients.