How on earth do recipients choose an egg donor?

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As a potential Nurture donor, we know that you can’t wait to help fulfil someone’s dream of becoming a parent.

You’ve finished your (very lengthy) application and your profile has been added to the database for the recipients to choose from. But, you wonder as you click ‘submit’, HOW do people choose an egg donor? And how can you make sure that they choose YOU?

For many recipients, egg donation is a step in what is often a long, difficult journey to parenthood. Many of Nurture’s recipients have endured years of unsuccessful fertility treatments, and the decision to use an egg donor is not always an easy one.

But what does a recipient look for in their donor? Honestly, it’s different for every single one.

In South Africa, unless an egg donation has been arranged with someone you know personally (for example, a sister or a friend), the entire process remains strictly anonymous. That means that the recipient will never know your name or identity and will never see a picture of you as an adult (so you can cancel your photo shoot!).

Their decisions are based entirely on your answers to the questions in your profile questionnaire, and on the oh-so-adorable baby pics you share with Nurture.

Recipients might look for a donor who could look like them. Things like eye colour, hair colour and height might be important – if the recipient is a short, blonde woman with green eyes, she might look for someone who could resemble her.

For other recipients, physical characteristics aren’t really a consideration at all. They look for women who share similar interests and hold similar values – basically, someone they could see themselves being friends with.

Do you like running? Play guitar? Does curling up with a good book sound like the best Friday night you could imagine? Do you love cooking? Often, it’s how your personality shines through in your profile that helps a recipient to decide on you – so let your flag fly!

And for some people, all they want to know is that their donor is healthy and (probably) not a serial killer.

Sound like a lot? While we’re taking care of our donors, we’re also helping to work some matchmaking magic behind the scenes to make sure our recipients find the perfect match for them!

So how do you make sure that someone chooses you?

Simply put: This is absolutely not the time to be shy or modest. Be honest, be open, be thorough… Be unapologetically YOU!

And, pick ADORABLE baby pictures.

It’s not about the money, but let’s talk about it anyway…

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One of the biggest misconceptions about egg donors is that they are only in it to make some quick cash –

but after 10 years in the business and over 2400 donor cycles, we can comfortably say that it’s simply not true!

Most of Nurture’s donors sign up to donate not because of the money, but because they want to do something incredible for another person – and that’s what makes them superwomen.

But yes, let’s talk about the money.

South African egg donors are compensated after their donation – an amount that is, by law, limited to R7 000. No more, no less.

If that number is making your head spin and you’ve already counted how many pairs of shoes you could buy with that, sit back and take a few deep breaths. Becoming an egg donor takes time, effort, and commitment. It is by no means a ‘quick buck’.

You will need to travel to and from appointments with your doctors, inject yourselves with fertility medications, and take a day off work for the egg retrieval.

(Side note: You will need to make sure that you have enough money available to get yourself to and from the clinic for your appointments and retrieval. You won’t receive any money upfront, so no Uber Black for you!)

Remember: You’re not selling your eggs, and no matter how many happy, healthy eggs are retrieved on the day of your donation, you will receive the same amount from the clinic that handles your donation. You are being rewarded for your time, effort and dedication – not your eggs!

A day in the life of Lee-Ann Owtram

Lee-Ann Owtram

Lee-Ann Owtram

After almost two decades in the corporate world,

Lee-Ann Owtram found her way to Nurture after being asked to “help out” on a project. That was seven years ago! We caught up with her to get to know the superwoman behind the cape.

What do you do at Nurture?

I look after the operations and systems for Nurture and Nurture UK.

What does a typical day at Nurture look like for you?

Making sure our system remains operational providing both the Nurture admin team and our clients with an effective and efficient service.  Managing Nurture UK with a wonderful team – two South African born gems (Kirsty and Gabby) who reside in the UK.

What is family to you?

Everything and more.

What has been the highlight of your Nurture career?

Building the Nurture UK brand, which has been challenging but so exciting. (And seeing George Michael live in 2012 during a business trip!)

What was your day job before Nurture?

I was the Fund Manager for the Wooltru Healthcare Fund at MHG (Metropolitan Health Group).

How did you move from a corporate background to get involved with Nurture?

After 18 years of working in a corporate environment, I felt I needed to spread my wings a little. I took on a business venture that sadly did not fulfil me, and two years later was asked by Nurture to “help out” during their transition from a manual process to a system-driven one. Seven years later, here I am. Happier than ever.

What do you think the future holds for Nurture?

We have the most determined and driven team. We will continue on our journey to help amazing people to reach their ultimate dream of becoming parents.

If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question – what would you ask?

Is there really life after death?

What is in your ultimate picnic basket?

A bottle of Jose Cuervo tequila, two shot glasses, some cherries, salt, and fresh slices of lemon.  Preserved figs (with the thick syrup), cheese and a good home-baked bread.  Strawberries and pineapple. And a blanket for later. (Author’s note: We want in on this picnic basket!)

What’s your superpower?

In my work environment: My attention to detail.

In my personal life: Patience.

What is the one piece of advice that you have for a new egg donor?

If you knew how much you are appreciated and respected, you would do this again and again and again.  It will change your life forever.

Describe the average Nurture egg donor in five words. 

Committed. Hopeful. Selfless. Dedicated. Kind.

What gets you going in the morning?

My 16-year-old daughter who insists that I get up with her in the morning to “bond” before she goes to school.

What is your proudest achievement?

Raising my son and daughter to be strong but caring and kind souls.

What are you doing when you’re not at work?

I spend time with the people I love – my children, my family, my partner, my friends and my two much-loved dogs, Milo and Seth.

You can contact Lee at lee@nurture.co.za.

What to look for when you’re choosing an egg donation agency

Much like trying to find the perfect date for your matric dance, Nurture logo pink

choosing the right egg donation agency for you is a critical step in your  journey.

If it’s not the right fit, the experience is going to be long, drawn-out and painful. But, if you’ve made the right choice and found the perfect partner, it’ll be a dream – and possibly even life-changing!

So here are some things to look for in choosing the right egg donation agency for you.

What’s their track record?

Let’s face it, as soon as you meet someone new, you head straight on to your phone to find their Instagram profile and learn as much as Google will allow you to. If the cutie at the bar looks dodgy online, you’ll be deleting that number, right?

It should be the same for choosing an egg donation agency. Try to find out as much as you can about the agency – from how long they’ve been in operation, to who their employees are. Has the agency ever been in the news? Do they have real references from real donors? Do they mention some of the fertility clinics that they’ve worked with?

Of course, if you can’t find any information on the agency you’re interested in, that should be a major red flag!

Do they play by the rules?

Egg donation agencies should follow the guidelines set by SASREG (which stands for The Southern African Society for Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy, in case you were interested), and they must obey all laws set out in the National Health Act regarding egg donation. Consider this essential reading: https://sasreg.co.za/downloads/Guidelines-for-Egg-Donation-Agencies.pdf

Nurture adheres to all SASREG guidelines (and then some!), and we will always put the health and wellness of our donors first.

Can you get in touch easily?

You should never have to work hard to find the right people to contact, and the people that you do get in touch with should be compassionate, professional, and easy to talk to! As with dating, chemistry is always important. If you don’t ‘click’ with your agency, it’s time to move on.

And because no one likes staring at their phone waiting for a reply… It’s important to us that our donors feel supported and loved from the start. We’ve been known to answer emails at 2am and reply to WhatsApp messages at all hours!

Do you get all the information you need, upfront?

One of the SASREG guidelines states that egg donors must be fully informed about the process, including the potential risks and side effects. If you ever feel like the agency is dodging questions or not answering them properly, take that as a red flag. You shouldn’t have to drag answers out of them – you have a right to be fully informed at all stages. And remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question!

Luckily for you, here at Nurture we’re chronic over-sharers. Seriously, if you’re interested, you can see which of our team members are dog-mad (Melany!) and what our drink of choice is (wine, please. Chardonnay if it’s going.)

Trust your gut

At the end of the day, YOU are the one that needs to make the decision on which agency to donate with. So, the biggest piece of advice that we have for you is to trust your gut.

If at any stage of your research for an egg donation agency you get a funny feeling about the agency or the people you will be working with, rather let them know that you have chosen not to go with their agency.

  1. Pick Nurture. We’ve been in the business for ten years and counting, and are positively fabulous.

Five tips for a first-time donor

So, you’re getting ready for your first-ever egg donation – exciting times! DonorEggs

By now you’ll have met with one of our fab Nurture women, been matched and are getting ready to go. Here are a few extra tips from a former donor for making your first donation a stellar experience.

Ask questions

Never be afraid to ask questions during the donation process. If something interests you, ask. If something worries you, definitely ask! If you’re not sure, or are sure and just want to make extra sure, then ask! There’s no such thing as a stupid question. This is an awesome opportunity to learn about some

rad science, and your own health and fertility – so take it!

Stay healthy

There are some quick (and cheap and easy) fixes to make sure you stay healthy when you’re getting ready to donate – and help make beautiful eggs for your recipient! Pop to the chemist to find some folic acid (which will boost your egg quality AND make your hair and skin look awesome, total no-brainer) and some good old-fashioned multivitamins. Choose more fresh fruit and veg and fewer processed foods. And (deep breath) – cut back on the alcohol and cigarettes. But especially the cigarettes – smoking has a major impact on your egg quality.

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is important to promote circulation throughout the egg donation process. Drink as much water as you can, choose fluids with electrolytes, and cut down on anything that can dehydrate you.

Relax

Let yourself take time off to rest and relax both before your donation, and after! Try to make sure that you’re not scheduling your egg retrievals for times that you know will be stressful for you, and that you take the opportunities to meditate, nap, or bond with your couch and your new favourite series!

Journal and take photos

This is an amazing experience that you’re on – and it has the potential to be life-changing for you. Write in your journal, make notes on your phone and take a million photos. That way, when you’re old and grey and looking back at your life, you can remember all the small details.

Good luck!

Five Questions to Ask Before You Donate

Thinking about becoming an egg donor? Questions-to-Ask

While at first glance you might meet the basic requirements(18 to 33 and a healthy BMI) and you’re ready to jump in feet first, there are a few other important factors to consider.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before you start this amazing journey. So, grab a cuppa (or a glass!) and find a quiet place to think over the below.

Am I healthy?

We all know that a healthy BMI (body-mass index) is not always a clear indicator of healthy you are. You must be free of any serious medical conditions (including HIV), and mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia before you are allowed to donate. You may also be disqualified from donating if you have a history of major depression that requires you to be on two or more psychiatric drugs.

Speaking of drugs – any donors who have a history of drug and alcohol abuse will not be allowed to donate. A few glasses of wine here and there is fine – just be prepared to cut back a little while you’re donating.

And, of course, you must have regular, healthy periods!

Do I have a healthy family history?

During your screening process, you fill out a questionnaire longer than most nightmare exam papers.

In it, you will be asked some detailed questions about your family’s medical history for the doctors to see if there are any possible genetic red flags to consider. These are important! If you can’t answer questions about your family’s medical history honestly and comprehensively, perhaps now is not the time for you to donate.

There’s a list here of the medical conditions that might disqualify you if you or your immediate family suffer from any of them – so please read through before starting the application: https://www.nurturedonors.co.za/medical-conditions/

Do I have the time?

Egg donation is a time-consuming process. Apart from the daily injections that you need to give yourself (or have someone give you if you’re really scared of needles!), you must be prepared to come in for between six and eight appointments – including initial psychological screenings and health checks, and repeated scans to check out how your ovaries are responding to the medication. Additionally, you must be prepared to take at least one day off from work or varsity for the donation and recovery itself.

If you’ve got a stressful time coming up at work or varsity and know that you won’t be able to make the time for any potential donations, perhaps put it off until your schedule clears and you can focus on making beautiful eggs!

(Side note: If you don’t want to disclose to your employer or place of education that you’re donating your eggs, one of the doctors can provide you with a medical certificate to book you off.)

Can I get to all my appointments?

Do you have your own vehicle to drive yourself to all your appointments, or can you catch a lift, take a taxi, Uber or use other public transport? And can you afford to pay out of your own pocket for these trips? While donors are compensated financially for their time and effort, this only takes place after the retrieval has been completed. If money is tight, make sure to budget for up to ten trips to and from the clinic you’ll be working with.

Will someone be able to pick you up after your retrieval?

Another important consideration is the day of the retrieval itself. During the egg retrieval, you’ll be placed under a very light anaesthetic to knock you out while the doctors do their thing. And while you might feel fine, legally you are not allowed to drive yourself home after having undergone anaesthetic. Someone must be there to pick you up after and to take you home.

If you’ve answered yes to these questions, then we can’t wait to welcome you aboard! Head to www.nurture.co.za to take the next steps on your egg donation journey.

A day in the life of Tanya Rubin

Tanya Rubin

Tanya Rubin is a qualified counsellor, registered social worker and logotherapist,

and most importantly, one of Nurture’s fab donor liaisons!

This mom of two is also a former infertility patient, with one IVF baby and one “free gift”. Besides her Nurture work, Tanya continues to counsel those struggling with infertility. Talk about a superwoman!

We sat down with Tanya to find out what makes her tick.

 

Describe in 15 words or less what you do at Nurture. 

Looking after matched donors, making sure that the match runs smoothly and efficiently.

 

What does a typical day at Nurture look like for you?

Checking emails every two minutes, chatting to donors all day via email or WhatsApp, interviewing and meeting donors, keeping in constant contact with the co-ordinators and nurses at the fertility clinics to make sure all is on track with the current matches and that donors know what the next steps are, and chatting to the Nurture recipient support team almost daily.

 

What has been the highlight of your Nurture career?

Every positive result we get is like a mini-highlight on a daily basis. I am privileged enough to see both sides in that I get to screen donors and counsel recipients – it is amazing how close the match is even though egg donation is anonymous! Those are my highlights, every day.

 

What is the one piece of advice that you have for a brand-new egg donor?

This experience is going to change your perspective on life and will be forever lasting

 

Describe the average Nurture egg donor in five words.

Dedicated, compassionate, committed, awesome and selfless.

 

If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question – what would you ask? 

Why do good people have to suffer through so much pain and loss?

 

Open up your handbag / laptop bag – what are the first five things in there? 

Chewing gum. Lip gloss. My purse. My phone. Tissues.

 

What’s your superpower? 

My gut instinct. It’s never wrong!

 

Your Nurture profile talks about your qualification as a logotherapist. Can you briefly define it, and explain how you bring it into your counselling practice?

Logotherapy is based on Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning. The basic premise is to help people find meaning through suffering. For me, being a counsellor who focuses primarily on grief, loss and infertility, it is vital to help patients find some type of meaning and connection in their life when they are going through so much pain and suffering.

 

A quick Google search mentions that you previously specialised in the field of addiction. How did you move into infertility counselling?

Having been a fertility patient myself, I knew that my experience as a patient had to mean something and so I decided to stay in the fertility world and have never left. It became a part of my soul and I have dedicated every aspect of my world to helping patients – hopefully by making their lives a little more manageable while the world of infertility consumes them.

 

What is family to you?

Family is everything to me! The most important elements in my life, my whole entire world!

 

What gets you going in the morning? 

Coffee and my gym classes

 

What is your proudest achievement? 

My two perfect, beautiful children! I cannot believe they are mine

 

Your profile mentions that you’re still practicing privately as well as working with Nurture. What are you doing when you’re not at work? 

My children keep me busy rushing around all day, but when I have time out, reading, drinking wine with family and friends and going to gym would be my escape from work

 

What is the biggest misconception about egg donation that you would wave a wand to clear up? 

That egg donors donate only for money, that egg donation is dangerous and that donors will lose all their eggs and never be able to have children after.

You can contact Tanya at Tanya@nurture.co.za or call her on 0826001989

 

EGG DONATION MYTHS – BUSTED!

In your quest to become a well-informed egg donor, you’ve no doubt10-myth-about-egg-donation

encountered one or more misconceptions around the process that may have you a bit concerned.

Fear not, we’re here to talk through some of the most common ones – so grab a cup of coffee, kick back and relax while we bust some major egg donation myths!

Donating my eggs will hurt my chances of having a baby

Contrary to (somehow) popular belief, women don’t just make one egg per month. In fact, we’re born with about two MILLION potential eggs!

Each month after we hit puberty, batches of those potential eggs are called up – with (usually) just one making it all the way to maturity and ovulation.

The rest of the potential eggs in those batches are like the runners-up on Idols. Still fantastic, but not The One – so your body gets rid of them. What fertility meds do is help to “rescue” these eggs and give them a purpose – encouraging your body to mature those eggs that were headed for the drain.

Long story short? Egg donation doesn’t tap into any reserves that weren’t going to be wasted by your body, anyway.

Donors sell their eggs for a quick buck

Woah! There are a few things in here for us to unpack.

First things first, a donor doesn’t “sell” her eggs. The amount paid to all South African donors – which is currently R7000 – is compensation for her time and the effort of travelling to appointments, taking off work, and injecting herself with the various prescribed medications.

That also means that a donor will receive the same amount no matter how many eggs are collected on retrieval day – whether it’s five or 15.

More importantly, while a few donors may be initially attracted by the prospect of some extra cash, most of the time they’re also committed to helping would-be parents fulfil their dream of having a baby.

And that’s something money can’t buy!

Egg donation is dangerous

Look, we’ll level with you – any medical procedure comes with some risk. But at Nurture, we work with only the very best clinics and doctors to make sure that you’re cared for every single step of the way.

The primary risk is something called Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome, which is still super rare! It’s caused by your ovary producing too many eggs in response to your injections – which is just one of the reasons you’ll be going for regular scans. Our docs will be able to pick up anything dodgy on the scans and adjust your meds accordingly.

If you do get OHSS, it’ll usually be a day or two after your retrieval, and you’ll know about it! You may experience severe bloating, pain and nausea. Don’t be a hero – call us straight away! Usually you’ll just be put on bed rest while your ovaries calm down, but that’s the doctor’s call.

The great news is that in South Africa we use a medical trigger protocol involving the use of a drug called Lupron, which pretty much totally removes the risk of OHSS – hurrah!

And as with every medical procedure – from a dentist’s appointment to a knee op – there’s also a small risk of infection, but most clinics will give you a shot of an antibiotic to reduce that risk.

Donating my eggs will hurt

You’ll have figured by now that we believe that honesty is the best policy. So, while we would love to say that it absolutely won’t hurt, it’s different for every woman. Some may be up and about straight away with not a care in the world, while others experience more discomfort than others.

However, it shouldn’t be excruciating pain!

Firstly: Yes, there are injections. About one a day for two weeks. But the sisters at the clinic will show you how to inject yourself so that you don’t really feel it, and after the first few days you’ll have it totally in your stride! (Spoiler alert: Bruises are normal while you’re learning this new skill. Wear them with pride!)

The hormone medication can make you a bit uncomfortable – you could have sore boobs, some bloating, some cramping, some headaches, or… Nothing at all!

During the procedure, you’ll be put under a mild anaesthetic and won’t feel a thing. When you wake up, you might be a bit “crampy” and sore, but much like with period pain, a hot water bottle and some pain killers will have you sorted. You have our full permission to spend the day on the couch bingeing on Netflix and napping.

But remember, feel free to ask your doctors, nurses and Nurture BFFs any and all questions at any stage of the process! Our goal is to make you feel informed, empowered and – dare we say it –  loved!

Retrieval Day: What to have on hand

Getting ready for your first donation?tips

If you’re anything like we are, preparation is everything!

One of our former donors – who has six donations under her belt – share

s her must-have items for retrieval day!

Comfortable clothing

Clothing that is comfortable and easy to put back on is a must! You may be a little sore or tired after the procedure, so the last thing that you will want to do is squeeze into a pair of super-skinny jeans (no matter how great they look on you!) or super fiddly sandals. We give you full permission to wear comfy sweatpants and slip-on shoes.

Something to read

You might need to wait a while before your procedure, and there are only so many times you can scroll through your Instagram feed, so take some reading material with you to help you pass the time.

Pads

Some bleeding after the procedure is normal, and the sanitary towels they give you at the clinic are usually not the most comfortable. Have your own brand of pads on hand and remember – tampons are out!

Extra water

When you wake up, the nurses will bring you something small to eat, a cup of tea, or something else to drink while you’re in the recovery room. But because you’ve fasted before the procedure, you may be extra thirsty! Bring a bottle of water.

Home comforts

Even if you feel fine, resting after the procedure is a non-negotiable. In fact, it’s a perfect excuse to spend the day on the couch napping and binge-watching shows on Netflix! Have a hot water bottle on hand in case you’re feeling sore, and your favourite snacks within arm’s reach.

Egg donation in a nutshell

donation 1

Egg Donation

Maybe you’ve seen a Facebook ad or a flyer. Perhaps you’ve overheard a conversation on the topic.

But what exactly is egg donation? We break it down for you.

Put a label on it

Simply put, egg donation is when one woman donates some of her eggs to another woman with one goal in mind – to make healthy babies!

There are a number of reasons for hopeful parents to choose an egg donor. Perhaps they’ve struggled to conceive using the woman’s own eggs. Perhaps there’s a medical reason or genetic condition in play. And perhaps you’re donating to a single dad or a gay couple.

Whatever the reason, the recipient has usually gone down a long, hard road before they get to you, and your hugely generous donation could be what finally allows them to achieve their dream of becoming parents!

The nitty gritty

Unfortunately, not everyone can donate their eggs. Women must be between the ages of 19 and 32, have a healthy BMI, and not have any serious medical conditions, genetic disorders, or sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV). Recreational drugs are also a no.

Egg donations are completely anonymous and handled through an agency or clinic. You won’t meet the intended parents or know each other’s names, and they won’t see any adult pictures of you.

The intended parents will read your donor profile to get to know your medical history, your family’s medical history and, perhaps most importantly, the type of person you are. Think of it as the world’s most in-depth dating profile! They will also see the gorgeous baby and kiddie photos that you provide to them – so make sure your kiddie pics are ultra-cute!

Donors are compensated R7000 for their time and effort – and it’s a BIG commitment. You will need to be prepared to inject yourself every day for around two weeks, take or change birth control to sync your menstrual cycle with the recipient’s, and make yourself available for scans and check-ups throughout the process.

All right, sounds good. I’m in.

Great! Once you’ve filled out your epic donor profile and submitted your baby pics, you’ll meet with your new Nurture BF for an initial interview to talk you through the process and make sure you’re not an axe murderer before you’re put on The List to be matched with a recipient.

Once you’ve matched, you’ll be assigned a clinic and a doctor, go for a medical exam, and meet with a psychologist to further assess your suitability as a donor.

You’ll be put on the Pill (if you’re not already on it) to match your menstrual cycle up with the recipient before you start your injections.

These are a relatively low dose of fertility medication used to stimulate your healthy ovaries to produce more eggs. You’ll need to inject yourself for between 10 to 14 days, depending on your doctor’s instructions, and they’ll throw in some additional injections to stop you from spontaneously ovulating and wasting all of those beautiful eggs.

And don’t worry if this is a lot of info – your amazing clinic team will walk you through everything!

Speaking of, you’ll need to pop in to the clinic every few days for a vaginal ultrasound with the doctor to make sure everything is as it should be, which is a great time to ask all the questions on your mind!

The Big Day

On retrieval day, you’ll be put under a light anaesthetic while you undergo something called “ultrasound directed needle aspiration”. During this process (for which you are asleep!) the doctor will use an ultrasound to direct a needle through the upper bit of your vagina and into your ovaries to “vacuum” those ripe eggs out.

You’re sent back to recovery and monitored for an hour or two before you receive your compensation and a cup of tea and are allowed to be taken home.

Then what?

Congratulations, you’re done! Go home and rest. Watch cheesy movies, have a nap, eat chocolate, pamper yourself. You’ve earned it!

The next day you can hop, skip or jump your way back to your normal life knowing that you’ve given the greatest gift anyone could ever give – the gift of hope.

Behind the scenes, your eggs are immediately examined and placed in a special culture medium where they remain for around three hours before semen is added to fertilise the eggs. An embryo transfer to the recipient’s womb usually takes place after the embryos have grown in the lab for three to five days, where they’ll (fingers crossed!) blossom into healthy babies and a happy parent!

Right, I’m definitely in.

Great! Head on over to https://www.nurture.co.za/donor-application/ and get going with your homework!