At Nurture, we have worked with thousands of different women over the years – of all races and from all backgrounds. Women with blonde hair. Short women. Women with freckles. Women who like trail running and Netflix. And while every woman at Nurture is unique, they all have a few things in common.
There’s no other way to say it – our donors are giving people one of the ultimate gifts: A chance to have a baby.
Our donors are responsible – they have to be! There’s no room to flake on appointments, forget to take medication on time, or take two weeks to answer an email.
Our women are kind and compassionate. They’re investing their time and energy into something that they believe in, and their hearts truly go out to the recipients.
These women are giving a lot of themselves – physically, and of their time. They’re going through a major process – injecting themselves, heading to appointments, undergoing a medical procedure – all to help someone they’ve never met.
Once they’re in, they’re in – and they can roll with the punches. Sometimes the doctors will change a donor’s drugs, push back a retrieval, or even move it up. No matter what, our donors are committed to the outcome.
Think you have what it takes to become a Nurture donor? Apply here.
There’s (almost always) no time like the present… And the same holds true for egg donation.
Nurture donors are required to be between the ages of 19 and 32 – and there’s a very good reason for this age limit!
A woman is born with a set amount of potential eggs – around 2 million. Each month, our body preps a certain amount of these egg follicles for ovulation (estimated by doctors to be upwards of 1000 per month) – but (usually) only one egg takes centre stage and is released from the ovary.
This egg is the superstar of that month’s batch – basically the Beyonce of your ovaries. It’s the one that the body decides has the best chance of being fertilised, becoming an embryo and then a happy, healthy baby.
The rest of the unused follicles are reabsorbed by the body and lost – unless you give them a boost with fertility medications to help bring them to maturity.
However, as you age, two things start to happen: The number of follicles that your body loses each month accelerates, and the body’s stockpile of superstar eggs starts to decline.
That essentially means that a woman loses more eggs each month and has a higher chance of releasing an egg that is chromosomally abnormal – which could cause things such as Down syndrome or Cystic Fibrosis.
Starting around age 32, a woman’s chances of falling pregnant each month start to decline. And, at age 35, that monthly decline starts becoming steeper. That doesn’t mean that as soon as you pop the bubbly on your 35th birthday you won’t be able to get pregnant – just that it won’t necessarily be as ‘easy’ as it could have been in your 20s.
(This is where we remind you again that fertility is different for every woman, every time!)
In a nutshell, you’ll be producing the highest number of ‘quality’ eggs before you’re 32 – which is music to ears of the intended parents looking for a donor!
So, what are you waiting for?
The other half of Nurture’s dynamic duo, Tertia Albertyn co-founded Nurture with her BFF Melany Bartok in 2008.
A recovering infertile (who gave birth to now-teenage twins after her ninth IVF, and had one ‘freebie’ baby), Tertia has poured her heart and soul into this business.
Lover of Chardonnay, fruit chutney chips and Pokemon Go!, we get to know the fabulous Tertia and the “no-brainer” that was founding Nurture…
Describe in 10 words or less what you do at Nurture.
Look for new opportunities to grow the business
What does a typical day at Nurture look like for you?
Open my laptop and try to get on top of my emails. Which is a pretty daunting task. The emails never stop! And by the time they arrive in my inbox, it usually means it’s a tricky or difficult situation. Sorting out problem cases or tricky situations is the least favourite part of my job, but it needs to be done. Things can’t be all sunshine and roses all the time. I love numbers and figures and spreadsheets so as a reward for doing the difficult stuff, I spend some time invoicing and recording information in spreadsheets. I often have meetings, which is another not-so-fun part of my job. Not only because the travel time and the meeting time takes up so much of my valuable working day, but I am a bit (VERY!) antisocial so having to look up from my computer and actually speak to someone face to face is always a bit daunting for me.
What has been the highlight of your Nurture career?
There are so many!! I always say that I have the best job in the world. We get to help others have their ‘happily ever after’. Every single baby born through our program is a highlight for me. Whenever I am feeling particularly stressed, I go to our photo album and look at all the gorgeous baby pics sent from our happy recipients. Makes my day each time. Another thing I absolutely love is following the day to day lives of our recipients who I have become friends with on Facebook. I look at the shiny faces on the first day of school and the parents’ proud faces and my heart wants to burst with happiness. Having suffered from infertility myself I know what it is like to want to have a child and not be able to. When I read the seemingly ordinary day to day lives of our recipients, I know just how grateful they are to have all those usual ‘firsts’ and big moments as parents, moments they thought might never happen.
What was your day job before Nurture?
I worked for IBM as Communications Manager for one of their divisions.
How did you and Melany come to the idea of starting Nurture together?
Melany and I have been friends for over 20 years. In fact, I’ve known Melany longer than I have known my husband who I have been married to for 18 years! As I mentioned before, I suffered from infertility for many years. During this time Melany could see how much pain I was in, which obviously made her really heart sore too. She asked what she could do to help me. At the time my problem wasn’t my eggs, so she couldn’t help me, but I told her she could become an egg donor and help other people. Which she did. A few years later Melany worked for an international egg donor program. One day Melany and I were chatting and we realized that there was a need for a local egg donor agency who could provide excellent service and good quality egg donors to the local and the international market. Melany and I had worked together in the past, we shared the same passion and enthusiasm for life. Plus, Melany had personal experience as an egg donor and I had personal experience as an infertility patient. It was a no brainer. That was over 10 years ago and we have taken our ‘baby’ Nurture to great heights locally and internationally. We are very proud of our team.
Nurture recently celebrated its tenth anniversary – how different is the fertility landscape now from when you first started in the industry?
Some things are quite different, and others remain the same. Infertility still affects so many people. And there is as much of a need for donor eggs as there was back then. However, some things have changed. The technology has improved in leaps and bounds. The most exciting innovation has been around egg freezing. Sperm banks have been around for ages, but in the past egg banks weren’t an option. That has changed in the past few years and now Nurture has partnered with the country’s leading fertility clinic to offer frozen donor eggs to our recipients. Very exciting stuff!
If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question – what would you ask?
Wow, that’s tough. I would want to know things like: Why do babies die? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why haven’t we found a cure for cancer? But if I had to pick one, it would have to be: How does one survive the teenage years and stay sane?! (I have twin teenagers, and it is a pretty scary ride!)
What is in your picnic basket?
Chardonnay. More Chardonnay. Fruit chutney chips. Dip. Those yummy crackers made with lots of butter and sun-dried tomato from Woollies. Some stinky cheese.
What’s your superpower?
Doing a million things at once: Running a business, raising a family, surviving the teenage years, supporting my parents, serving on the PTA. All at once.
What gets you going in the morning?
Coffee! Plus getting 3 kids up and ready for school.
What are you doing when you’re not at work?
Playing Pokemon Go! My husband and I are big Pokemon addicts, and we spend most of our weekends meeting up with our Pokemon friends and playing the game together. It’s very social.
What is the one piece of advice that you have for a new egg donor?
Don’t be shy to boast about yourself on your profile. Donors with detailed, interesting profiles get chosen quicker. Recipients love to read everything you’ve written.
Describe the average Nurture egg donor in five words.
Amazing, strong, committed, giving, caring.
You and the team have scanned through hundreds of applications – what are the first things you look for in a potential donor?
By now we know which donors get chosen quicker. Donors with detailed profiles where they share a lot of info about themselves – their interests, hobbies, achievements, likes/dislikes etc. Recipients love that. Then, donors with a tertiary qualification are in high demand. Lastly donors with cute childhood pics definitely get chosen quicker. In the absence of meeting the donor face to face (because egg donation in South Africa has to be anonymous), all the recipients have to go on when they make their choice is what the donor has written about herself, what she has achieved academically or in her career and lastly, how she looked as a young child.
What is the one misconception about egg donation that you would wave a wand to clear up?
That donating your eggs uses up your own store of eggs, making it harder to have a baby one day. We are born with all the eggs we will ever have, and every month these eggs go to waste. Egg donation is using the eggs that would have gone to waste anyway. Instead of wasting them, you could be blessing future parents with the baby they long for.
What do you think the future holds for Nurture?
Lots of exciting things! Growing the frozen egg bank, and expanding internationally. Helping even more people have babies!
August is Women’s Month in South Africa, which commemorates the 20 000 women
who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956 to protest the extension of Pass Laws to women.
Over the years, Women’s Month has grown to celebrate strong women from all walks of life – and we just so happen to think that our donors are some of the most amazing women of all!
If you’re still on the fence about donating, here are four reasons to consider donating.
You can (literally) make someone’s dream come true
For many of Nurture’s recipients, the decision to use donor eggs is another step in an often incredibly difficult journey to become a parent. By donating your healthy, beautiful eggs to a person who needs them, you could help them to achieve their dream of becoming a parent.
You will have the best ice-breakers
Trust us, we’ve used the “I’m an egg donor” fun fact more often than we can count! Apart from the fact that it’s a great conversation starter, it is also a way to start getting other people to think about issues around infertility and LGBTQ+ parenting (particularly if you have donated to a gay couple or a single gay parent), as well as conversations about reproductive health.
You learn AMAZING things about your own body
As you go through the egg donation process, you will get to learn some pretty mind-blowing stuff about your own body, your own fertility and your menstrual cycle. You will have access to some of the best doctors and nurses in the fertility industry, so ask EVERY question you can think of.
After doing a donor cycle, you’ll almost certainly never look at your body the same way.
You will feel like a superwoman
You have truly given one of the most generous gifts that a woman can give – and this is something for you to look back on with pride later in your life.
Without a doubt, you are someone’s superwoman.
So, what are you waiting for? Click here to get started!
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.
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!