SASREG Accredited Egg Donor and Egg Donation Agencies in South Africa
Egg donor agencies or egg donation agencies, as they are also known, play a very important part in the treatment of infertility in South Africa.
There has been a proliferation of egg donation agencies in South Africa over the last few years, as a result of the growing demand for egg donations. This growing demand for egg donation is driven by the fact that as many as 1 in 6 couples are facing fertility challenges and one of the most common reasons for this is poor egg quality, especially among women older than 35.
Without healthy, good quality eggs donated by selfless healthy young women, these couples will remain unable to have their own child. As such, egg donation agencies – who recruit egg donors and match these egg donors to egg donation recipients – offer an important service within our society.
However, there is a danger that problems could arise if egg donation agencies are ungoverned – and this could place the practice of entire egg donation at risk.
With a high demand for egg donors and a growing number of egg donation agencies, it is crucial that egg donation practices and egg donation agencies are carefully regulated to prevent unethical business practices among egg donor agencies and to protect the interests of egg donors as well as the recipients of egg donations.
Regulations governing Egg Donation Agencies
The laws of South Africa on egg donation (or ‘gamete donation’ as it is also called) are detailed in the National Health Act of 2004. In particular, Chapter 8 on Artificial Fertilization of the National Health Act and regulations, govern the activities of egg donation agencies.
Egg donor agencies should also abide by the SASREG egg donation guidelines as published in 2008.
If you are an egg donor or if you are looking for an egg donor, it is important that you only choose a SASREG accredited egg donor agency.
Who is SASREG?
SASREG is the Southern African Society of Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy. This society of fertility experts, drawing on substantial expertise and extensive experience, has provided strict guidelines and protocol procedures to protect the interests of egg donors and egg donation recipients.
In this article, we look at what the SASREG guidelines entail, what it means for an egg donation agency to be SASREG accredited, and what it means for you as an egg donor or an egg donation recipient to choose a SASREG accredited egg donation agency.
What do SASREG guidelines entail?
SASREG guidelines detail how egg donation agencies can operate legally and ethically, to protect the health and well-being of both the egg donors and the egg donation recipients.
Egg donation agencies must give provide complete and full information. For example, egg donation agencies must ensure that egg donors are fully briefed about the process of egg donation, including the possible risks and side effects. In addition, advertising, marketing campaigns, and publicity materials for egg donation should be designed and written with care, taking into consideration the sensitive issues involved in recruiting egg donors. Reference to reimbursements or compensation as “earning money” or “financial gain” should be avoided – egg donation is done for altruistic reasons.
Similarly, egg donation agencies must always give accurate information to the recipient couple regarding the health of the egg donor.
Egg donation agencies must also maintain the anonymity of both the donor and the recipient. In this respect, no identifying information may be passed between donor and recipient, no meetings between donors and recipients are allowed, and no adult photos of the donors may be shared with the recipient. However, egg donation agencies are allowed to show baby or child photos of the donor up until a maximum of age 10. Furthermore, no contact will be allowed between the donor and the potential child in the future.
Egg donation agencies must take care of their egg donors overall physical and reproductive health. For example, egg donors should undergo a psychological assessment prior to their donation and may not donate more than approximately six times. Egg donors should not do more than four egg donations within a twelve-month period and back-to-back donations are not allowed.
SASREG guidelines also specify that egg donation agencies should not canvas donors who wish to travel, or facilitate the travelling of donors outside of South Africa. Donors are allowed to travel within the borders of South Africa in between different cities, if the continuity of medical care is ensured – in other words the donor needs to have easy access to a SASREG accredited clinic after the donation, in case a complication occurs. Furthermore, extra travelling costs can be charged to the recipient, but these costs must completely transparent to the recipient.
SASREG also addresses the issue of ownership of egg donation agencies. Doctors, clinics, lawyers and other professionals should declare and be transparent about any financial, commercial or other relationship with the egg donor agencies they refer patients to. Should a professional have a personal or financial interest in a specific egg donor agency, this should be declared upfront when the recommendation for egg donation is made. The financial interest or commercial relationship between doctors, clinics, lawyers and other professionals and the agencies should be available in the public domain. No individual that has a financial interest in the agency or an employee of an agency may be used as an egg donor.
SASREG guidelines also stipulate that no financial transactions can occur between the egg donor and the egg donation agency. Only the fertility clinic can reimburse an egg donor. Furthermore, no financial transaction is allowed between a fertility clinic and an egg donation agency: referral fees or kickbacks are not allowed. However, an egg donation agency can charge the recipient couple an administrative fee for matching of the egg donor.
What it means for an Egg Donation Agency to be SASREG accredited
Most fertility clinics will work only with egg donation agencies that follow the SASREG ethical guidelines.
Egg donor agencies who abide by the regulations as set out by SASREG may advertise on their websites that they do work according to the ethics set out in the regulations by SASREG.
Regular interaction between SASREG and the egg donor agencies is encouraged to ensure the best care is given to donors and to egg donation recipients. Egg donation agencies can also seek advice and assistance from SASREG.
What does choosing a SASREG egg donor agency mean?
The first step to choose the right egg donor agency is to ensure that the agency or agencies you are considering are registered with SASREG. This provides both egg donors and egg donation recipients with reassurance that the guidelines as detailed above are followed by the egg donation agency – protecting the egg donor and the recipient.
You can find out more about SASREG at www.sasreg.co.za or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Although there is good interaction between SASREG and donor agencies, the actions of donor agencies and any possible complaints related to their contracts with donors and recipients fall outside the responsibilities of SASREG as a society. Any complaints about the actions of egg donation agencies should be reported to the Department of Health: For attention Mr Clayton by emailing his secretary, Nastasya Parkers at email address Nastasya.Parker@westerncape.gov.za.
Find the right SASREG accredited egg donation programme
At Cape Fertility, we only work with agencies that follow the SASREG ethical guidelines.
And, as a SASREG accredited clinic, Cape Fertility also has its own egg donation program with the option of both fresh or frozen eggs. By joining the Cape Fertility Egg Donor Program, you join the medical facility directly without going through an egg donor agency.
To find out more, simply fill in your contact details here, or contact our Egg Donor Fairy God Mother, Linda, on 066 22 55 003 or email@example.com. Your information is 100% confidential and will under no circumstances be made available to anybody else.
We look forward to welcoming you to our friendly, professional and leading Egg Donor Program!