Egg donors are healthy, young – between the ages of 21 and 34 years old – women who voluntarily undergoes hormonal and medical treatment so that their eggs can be given to people who have no other hope of conceiving a child.
It is a great act of kindness – as anyone who has ever benefitted from receiving such a donation would tell you – but what exactly inspires young women to do this?
For Kim (not her real name), a 23-year old undergraduate university student from South Africa, the motivating factor was seeing advertisements online and realising just how many couples out there struggle to conceive. “Women have over 300 000 eggs, eggs which would go to waste with each monthly cycles anyway,” she says. “Why not donate some to a couple who desperately want a family? I feel it is the best give you can give, a gift of life.”
In South Africa, egg donation is 100% legal, ethical and strictly regulated by The Policy Committee of the South African Society of Reproductive Science and Surgery. Unlike in many other countries, donors in South Africa remain anonymous, with only her medical history, education, and description of physical features, characteristics, her interests, etc. being revealed to prospective donor egg recipients. She never meets or makes contact with the recipients and the prospective recipients only get to photographs of her as a baby and a toddler. The child’s birth certificate will record only the names of the recipient parents. This also allows the recipient parents to one day choose whether or not to reveal the origins of their child’s conception.
In South Africa, egg donors receive some money for their time and effort. However, the amount paid has been carefully assessed and determined to ensure that donors are not exploited in anyway. The money paid essentially covers the incidentals that the donor will incur, such as getting to and from the clinic during her participation in the donor programme. Although the money can certainly make a difference – especially in the life of a student – it is definitely not the motivating factor, and egg donors donate out of sheer kindness and to make a genuine difference in someone else’s life.
This is exactly what has prompted Kim to donate that first time. She has already donated four times and says she would do it again in a heartbeat. She says: “I cannot describe to anyone what an amazing, heart warming feeling overcomes me when I hear that a [egg donor recipient] couple is pregnant, or when I hear that their precious bundle of joy has been born.”