Joy is conceivable
Grace Chetty, 22, was on Facebook when she stumbled across an advert that read: "Are you fun, fearless and giving? We want you!"
She followed the link to find an egg donation site, and as she read more her interest was piqued.
At the same time, early last year, Gillian Ackerman, 40, found out that she wouldn't be able to conceive naturally with her eggs.
In vitro fertilisation was decided on - and she had to find an egg.
Both Ackerman and Chetty ended up on www.nurture.co.za, a website dedicated to bringing egg donors and recipients together.
One of Nurture's founders and a donor, Melany Bartok, said women struggle to talk about fertility problems because the topic is still taboo.
"Women need to know that there is hope for them, despite the fact that their eggs have an expiry date," said Bartok, whose baby, Eden, pictured, was conceived naturally.
DONOR - GRACE CHETTY
"I read up on what they wanted from me. It sounded simple enough so I decided to sign up," Chetty said.
"I suppose there was a little bit of narcissism on my side. I wanted to see whether anyone would want my eggs, whether I was good enough."
Donors have to fill in an extensive form listing their likes and dislikes, their educational level and their medical history. Donors upload baby photos of themselves.
The recipient does not get to see what they look like as an adult, so that anonymity is protected.
"About a month-and-a-half later I got an e-mail to say I'd been chosen as a potential donor. I had to make an initial appointment to check whether I was healthy enough to give my eggs."
RECIPIENT - GILLIAN ACKERMAN *
"I selected someone whose baby photos indicated the probability that the baby's features could be similar to mine," said Ackerman, who now has a healthy baby girl.
"I would suggest that you have a good support system before you embark on this journey as it can be a lonely one.
"Guard your heart by not discussing your choice openly while you are busy with the process, unless you are using friends and family as a sounding board. Not everyone will agree with your decision."
- Ackerman's name has been changed to protect her family's identity
WHAT OTHERS HAVE TO SAY
We asked some Facebook users the following question: “Would you donate your eggs?”. These were some of their answers:
Jacqy Tatie Zvoutete: Yes I would! I don’t need all of them. [It] would be great to help someone else who does. I feel the carrying of the baby is more important than the mixture of the father’s sperm and that egg to make a parent.
Larissa Domino Pringiers: Well I feel that there is more to being a mom then genetics. Think of adoption and sperm donors. I for one am not the mother-type so I would never want to claim that kid as being mine.
Tarirayi Frederick Chiks: It’s more than just you and the people you helped. It’s the life that comes from your genes to consider. You should factor that into your decision and whether u can live with the risks that may or may not eventuate. You must be certain you won’t have a change of heart in future.
Jenny Long: I donate because I have such huge sadness in my heart for ladies since I learned about infertility. This not being able to have a baby thing, it is not a fun world. It is not a world of laughter and excitement; it is a world of tears, heartbreak and brokenness. The people who have chosen me, I am their last resort. They have not woken up one day and said, "Let’s find a donor and spend trillions on her for the tiny chance we may have a baby". I am part of their hopes and dreams; I am the last stop on their journey before adoption.
WHAT IS EGG DONATION?
- This is the process by which a woman provides ova for purposes of assisted reproduction.
- The success rate is 60% to 70%. Successful donors are compensated up to R6000 per donation, but are limited to three in a year.
- Potential risks to donors include ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome. This is relatively rare (1% of IVF cases).
- Donors must be between the ages of 20 and 34, and recipients no older than 50.
- The process for a recipient costs between R40 000 and R60 000.