The Risks and Benefits of Egg Donation
For the last 30 years, egg donations from caring and selfless healthy young women have given thousands of women who are unable to conceive with their own eggs, the opportunity to become pregnant with their own babies.
Egg donation is an act of pure selfless giving that can bring immense joy to another woman, and also has a number of other benefits to the donor.
There are, of course, risks involved in any medical procedure. It is important that you – as a potential donor – be aware of any potential risks, so that you can make an informed decision about becoming an egg donor.
What are the risks of donating eggs?
Since the world’s first pregnancy through egg donation in Australia in 1984 and the first pregnancy through egg donation in South Africa just two years later in 1986, egg donation has become a routine treatment at fertility clinics around the world. Hundreds of thousands of egg donors worldwide have completed the donation process.
Not only has the procedure proven to be safe over many years, the last three decades have also seen many advances in the medical technology, such as ultrasound, that facilitates safe and egg donation.
Egg donation, however, is a medical procedure and all medical procedures carry some risk.
During your egg donation process, you will undergo hormone treatment designed to stimulate egg maturation. The medication is taken via self-administered injections.
The primary risk in egg donation is a condition called Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS). It is caused by the ovary producing too many eggs in response to the stimulation medication and becoming enlarged. Fluid may collect in the abdominal cavity causing bloating and pelvic pain.
However, OHSS is relatively rare – around 1% of IVF cases. Most donors experience no side effects at all while on this medication. Some donors may experience PMS type symptoms like bloating, moodiness or pelvic discomfort. Any side effects will disappear when you stop taking the medication.
Nevertheless, while you are taking the medication at Cape Fertility Clinic, regular scans are performed by medical experts, to ensure your safety and manage any possible risk.
While egg donation is an extremely safe procedure with very little risk, as with any medical procedure there is a risk of bleeding, infection or anaesthetic complications. Your fertility specialist will explain in more detail when you meet.
Your egg donation (retrieval) at Cape Fertility Clinic is performed by one of our fertility specialist doctors. Egg retrieval day will require that you take a full day off work or your daily activities and arrangements will be made for someone to take you home after the procedure.
At Cape Fertility Clinic, we use a mild general anaesthetic and you will sleep during the procedure which takes about 30 minutes and is completed with ultrasound guidance using a vaginal ultrasound and a fine needle. You will not experience any pain during the procedure – there is no cutting, stitches or scarring.
After the procedure, you will stay in recovery for about 1 hour before going home. Some donors experience some discomfort similar to that experienced with a period, for which normal pain relief medication can be taken. Linda – our Egg Donor Fairy God Mother – and our team will remain in constant contact with you. About 5 to 14 days later, you will have a period.
As an egg donor, it is extremely important that you be assured that the clinic at which you donate is a world-class medical facility, dedicated to your care and medical safety.
During your egg donation cycle at Cape Fertility Clinic, you will be cared for by a specialist medical team of fertility specialists, qualified nursing sisters, our resident psychologist and our dedicated egg donor co-ordinator, Linda. This team has been caring for egg donors’ emotional and medical needs for many years and have safely completed thousands of treatments.
With regard to the legalities, it is important to know that egg donation is legal in South Africa.
It is also good to know that South Africa has amongst the best egg donation laws in the world. In South Africa, the legislation on egg donation is published in Chapter 8 of the National Health Act (Act no 61 of 2003) and protects you – the donor, as well as the recipient.
In addition to strict adherence to the law, Cape Fertility Clinic is also a leader in the ethical requirements for egg donation, as set out by both the Department of Health and South African Society of Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy (SASREG).
Egg donation in South Africa is anonymous and confidential by law.
The disclosure of the identity of either the egg donor or the recipient is prohibited. Egg donors and recipients will never know each other’s personal details and never meet each other. At Cape Fertility Clinic, we never disclose your personal details, your adult photos or your name.
This means there is no chance that your – or the recipient’s – identities will become known at any time in the future.
Your future responsibility
It is important to realise that if a pregnancy is achieved and carried to term using donated eggs, the child conceived will be the recipient’s legal and biological child. Legally, a donor egg baby is the legal child of the birth mother.
While the egg you donate is crucial to another woman achieving pregnancy, it must be remembered that the egg is fertilised with sperm from the recipient’s partner before being placed in her uterus. It is the pregnant mother’s body that is responsible for the growth of the fetus. The fetus takes its required fluids and nourishment from the mother’s blood via the placenta for 40 weeks. It is the pregnant mother’s flesh and blood that results in the baby’s flesh and blood – and she is the child’s biological and legal mother.
Your own fertility
As a woman you are born with approximately 2 million eggs. Each month you ovulate and, unless an egg/s are fertilised, the eggs are removed from your body as part of your monthly period. These are eggs that you would not have used but discarded. During an egg donation, approximately 10 to 20 eggs are retrieved to be donated to a woman in need.
There is no proven evidence that donating eggs affects your own long-term fertility. Follow-up studies among donors have shown that the fertility of egg donors is not affected. Our egg donors go on to have children of their own if and when they decide.
What are the benefits of donating my eggs?
The donation of healthy eggs is a blessing for couples who are unable to conceive with their own eggs. Without donated eggs, their dream of having their own baby cannot become a reality.
Our donors say that the selfless act of giving to another, in a way that makes such a significant difference in their lives, is the greatest benefit of egg donation. It is giving a gift of life and an altruistic act rewarded with the knowledge that somewhere in the world a woman – who once faced the bitter prospect of never having her own child – is experiencing the joy and wonder of holding her baby, thanks to your generosity.
There are also a few other benefits, such as the thorough medical exams and evaluations that will give you valuable information about your own fertility and state of health.
During the egg donation process at Cape Fertility Clinic, numerous medical checks are done, including the quality and quantity of your eggs and assuring that you have ample eggs to donate a few, to protect your own fertility. Infectious disease markers are also tested simultaneously. You will also undergo an internal vaginal ultrasound, similar to those performed during a gynaecological check-up.
No cost to you
There are also no costs to you. Even if you do not live in Cape Town, don’t worry… when you are selected to donate, we will arrange for you to travel to Cape Town, at no charge to yourself!
In addition, at Cape Fertility Clinic, you will also receive the maximum permissible compensation allowable in South Africa under the National Guidelines from the South African Society for Reproductive Medicine (SASREG), which is currently R8000 per donation cycle.
Because the eggs are donated, egg donors are not paid for the eggs. However, by law, egg donors can be compensated for reasonable expenses – such as getting to and from the clinic for your appointments and for the procedure on egg donation day. This compensation is the same for all donors – irrespective of how many eggs are donated.
This maximum compensation is paid by us, directly to you, on the day of and after your egg donation. Should you decide to donate again, this compensation is paid to you for every egg donation cycle.
Remember, if you don’t live in Cape Town, it is not a problem – all your travel and accommodation arrangements will be explained to you and all your expenses will be covered.
Your First Step to Becoming An Egg Donor in South Africa
If you are willing to donate eggs to help another woman fulfil her dream of having her own baby, you will be pleased to know that the first step is as simple as contacting us.
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.
Linda has many years of experience supporting egg donors and a wealth of information to share and will answer your questions and guide you further in giving the gift of a lifetime.
We look forward to welcoming you to our friendly, professional and leading Fertility Clinic and supporting you throughout your entire egg donation process, as well as after your egg donation is completed.