A day in the life of Helen de Pinto

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Helen de Pinto

Helen de Pinto works non-stop to ensure that Nurture’s donors are taken care of – from the donor’s application to the initial interview and posting on the Nurture website. This mom of three daughters has been with Nurture since it started. Find out what her day looks like, what gets her going in the morning, and what her one piece of advice for a new donor is. 

 

What is your role at Nurture?

I follow up from when a donor moves to Pending Interview through to being made active on system.  I interview donors. I look after travelling donors from booking appointments, travel, and accommodation to arranging travel allowance and looking after them while in the host city.  I email back on-board donors and move them to Active or Past. Do all clinic and recipient PDFs and keep their folders up to date. Email donors with any questions for the recipient team. Do Monthly Stats on Donors.  Follow up with team and move donors that have had their retrievals. I would say I do a little bit of everything.

 

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

Going through all emails, chatting to travelling donors on WhatsApp, organising any flights needed for initials or retrievals. I may do an interview. Follow up with any queries / emails sent to donors. Checking and following up on any retrievals done for the day, moving them. General donor admin, going through all my matches, making sure all is on track. Different things come up all the time – my days are never the same.

 

What was your day job before Nurture? 

I worked as a PA to the Managing Director at a Corporate Firm and did Marketing as well.

 

What is your favourite thing about working at Nurture?

To be honest, I cannot just name one favourite thing, it is a combination of things that I love about working at Nurture.

 

What has the highlight of your Nurture career been?

I have been with Nurture since it started and the highlight of my Nurture career has been watching how we have grown and evolved into what Nurture is today. It has been a great journey, with lots of learning, changes and challenges but we always come out on top. We have a great team of women and we get it done the right way.

 

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

Will my girls be content, happy and successful in their lives?

 

What is in your ultimate picnic basket?

Grapes / Cherries / Blueberries / Strawberries, Lindt Dark Chocolate, Mixed roasted Nuts

Camembert Cheese / Brie Cheese with crackers & figs and Woolworths Nachos and Spicy Guacamole Dip

 

 What’s your superpower?

I care, I am reliable, available, loyal and will make sure I get things done.

 

What gets you going in the morning? 

My family, a good cup of coffee and my work

 

You’re a mom to three girls. What is your greatest wish for them?

My greatest wish for my three girls is for them to be happy, love themselves, to believe in themselves, be strong, independent women, know that everything and anything is possible with commitment, studying and hard work no matter how many times they fall, which I know they will, they can get up and do it again and will succeed. I will always be there to pick them up and dust them off no matter what.  I love listening to them, watching them take on challenges and see some of the values I try teaching them already coming through in their characters

 

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

Generally, I am with my husband and daughters. If my husband is busy around house or watching sports, then the girls and I go out together. The older girls drive so we go on little outings and have some girl fun. The girls often have friends around as well, so the house is always busy. I must admit we are a homely type of family. I sneak in a little bit of Nurture emails while everyone is still sleeping in the morning, I just cannot resist.

 

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

You need to be committed and you need to make sure you have the support you need before coming on board. It is important to have a parent/partner/best friend that will support you throughout the egg donor journey.

 

What is the most common question that a new donor has?

Will donating eggs effect my future fertility?

 

Describe the average Nurture egg donor in five words.

Special, committed, compassionate, giving and caring.

 

What is the one misconception about egg donation that you would wave a wand to clear up? 
A donor is giving away their child.
You can email Helen on Helen@nurture.co.za

Why you shouldn’t wait to donate your eggs

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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?

A glass of Chardonnay with Tertia

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Tertia Albertyn

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!

 

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.