Compensation, birth control and more: How to donate eggs in South Africa

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"By becoming an egg donor, you are giving infertile couples the precious gift of a family." Photo: Getty Images
"By becoming an egg donor, you are giving infertile couples the precious gift of a family." Photo: Getty Images

For those who wish to become parents, but struggle with fertility or for other reasons are unable to conceive naturally, the gift of a healthy egg is a lifechanging opportunity. 

In South Africa, healthy young women who are willing and eligible to donate their own eggs to intended parents who are struggling to fall pregnant, have the opportunity to make these dreams come true.

The process includes egg retrieval, and then the donor eggs are fertilised through IVF with either the prospective parents' male partner's sperm, or donor sperm. Once fertilised, the embryo is placed back into the intended mother's womb. 

Here Parent24 shares details and advice from local fertility clinics and egg donation agencies on the egg donation process, compensation, parental rights, where to find our local egg banks and more...

Read: Compensation, parental rights and more: How to donate sperm in South Africa

The egg donation process

The first step for potential donors includes a screening process, where at a minimum, the screening will include infectious disease testing, doctor consultation, fertility testing and psychological screening. Screening may also include criminal record checks, psychometric testing and genetic testing.

Donors may also undergo a clinical examination of their reproductive system together with vaginal ultrasound and hormone blood tests.  

At most fertility clinics and agencies, tests are performed free of charge, and you walk away with crucial medical information about yourself.

A drug test is performed free of charge in most agencies and clinics, but you may be asked before the tests if you have used drugs in the last three months. If you answer no, and then you test positive for drugs, you will be liable to pay for the urine test.

For an average of 10 to 12 days, the egg donor will need to inject themselves at home with hormones that encourage stimulation, while their health is monitored carefully.

Abstinence and extra precaution are advised as the donor will be very fertile during this period. 

Birth control

Some agencies allow donors who are sterilised or have polycystic ovarian syndrome to donate. 

Birth control use of the following contraceptives will be allowed in most clinics and agencies:

  • No contraceptive
  • Condom
  • Birth control pills (e.g. Yasmin, Minulette, Yaz, Triphasil)
  • Contraceptive Patch
  • IUD – NON-Hormonal (such as the Copper T)
  • IUD – Mirena.

But at some clinics, donors who use contraceptive implants such as Implanon, Norplant or Jadelle will not be able to donate until they remove the implant and have a natural menstrual cycle afterwards.

Sometimes, if you are breastfeeding you cannot donate until you wean and have had at least two consecutive periods.

Prerequisites

Certain lifestyle choices such as drug abuse and smoking will disqualify you from donation.

In terms of the health requirement, a donor must have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 30.  

Women with HIV or type 1 diabetes are not allowed to donate to some agencies.

Must read: Surrogate mum suffers pricy legal battle for full custody after falling pregnant while already pregnant

Compensation

A donor is not paid for her ovaries. Instead, she is compensated for her time, effort and costs incurred during the donation.

The South African Medical Ethics committee sets guidelines for compensation.

This compensation varies by agency, and for example at Vitalab, compensation is set at R9000, while at Wijnland Fertility Cinic the ova donation compensation amount ranges between R7000 to R10 000 per donation.

Limits on donation

In order to protect their physical and reproductive health, donors may not donate more than approximately six times. Special permission by the Specialist in Reproductive Medicine may be given to exceed this in some circumstances.

Mothers who have donated once are encouraged to donate again. Some clinics have no waiting periods, and some have up to three months between donations.

Most clinics offer counselling support before and after donation. Some also provide an ethical, medical and psychological session for the donor before the donation process.

Also read: Want to have a baby boy? This is what you need to know

Anonymity 

The egg donor remains anonymous and her information is confidential at all local clinics and agencies, as guided by the South African Medical Ethics committee guidelines.

Donors are not allowed to share their real names or photos of themselves as adults. Only physical characteristics, medical history, family history, hobbies and educational background is revealed.

Egg recipients have no right to learn the identity of the donor.

Here is a list of local Egg Banks in South Africa

1. Aevitas Egg Bank, situated in Cape Town, invites women between the ages of 20 and 32 to be donors.

2. Vitalab Egg Bank, situated in Morningside; Sandton invites women between 21 and 32 to apply.

3. Cape Fertility, situated in Cape Town, asks women between 18 and 31 to apply.

4. Nurture Donor Agency wants women between the ages of 19 and 33 to apply.

5. Baby 2 Mom Donation Agency in Johannesburg is looking for women between 18 and 34 to donate.

6. Wijnland Fertility Clinic donation program wants women between 18 and 32 years to apply.

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