After a feature story highlighting young women donating eggs for fertility clinics, it is best to understand how the process works. We will break it down for you.
Usually the doctor extracts one or more ova from the donor. Before this, the donor takes drugs to stop their menses. This is followed by an injection under the skin or into a muscle to boost ovary production. This process is referred to as hyper-stimulation.
They are then fertilized in a lab and placed in the receiver’s womb, a process referred to as in vitro fertilization (IVF) an implantation technique. The hospital can also freeze the eggs for future use by other women. This benefits women who cannot use their own embryos for health or age-related reasons.
Not just anyone can donate their eggs. An extensive check must be conducted to make sure the embryos are good enough to donate. Age is an important factor with youthful women being the best candidates. Kenyan clinics take women from 21- 25. Older women of up to 35 can donate but that will depend on their agreement with the receiver.
Name programs conduct an extensive screening to minimize the risk of congenital anomalies and other complications that may arise. These can be; physical exam, drug tests, blood tests, medical and mental past, screening for genetic disease and infectious disease.
During extraction anesthesia can be administered and in takes 30 minutes. Both donor and receiver face minimal risks. Complications may arise when the needle is inserted in the ovary but the chances are minimal if the doctor you are working with is a truly qualified professional.
Antibiotics will be prescribed should one get an infection after extraction. With the medication to stop your menses you might experience; headaches, hot flashes, body aches or fatigue. The fertility meds are followed by; mood swings, tender breasts and maybe bruising where you got the jab.
Cases that will need hospitalization include when you produce way too many eggs. If the donor experiences stomach pain, vomiting, difficulty in breathing or rapid weight gain, that is a red flag that needs immediate medical attention.
What the law says
This varies from country to country but it is legal to donate eggs in Kenya. It is also lawful and even considered ethical to receive payment for it. Hospitals require you to sign a contract stipulating that you have no claim over the eggs you donate or kids that result from them. By law the woman receiving the egg will be considered the baby’s mother.
As far as your identity as a donor goes, depending on the contract you can choose to stay anonymous to receiver and her child. Others might give some information to the receiver about you but not your name and you might not be required to meet. Some mothers let you meet the child once they are delivered or when they get to a certain age. If you donated to someone you know personally you two get to decide how to handle the relationship although a contract will still come in handy if any eventualities occur.
This depends on how much a clinic offers to freeze your eggs. If you are physically approached to donate eggs, do get a written agreement about how much you expect to be paid.
Some people frown upon this practice. More so this stems from the notion that women who donate eggs do it purely for money. Another cause of controversy would be clinics that acquire donors cheaply, but give them to women who truly need them at exorbitant prices. It comes off as benefiting from another person’s disadvantage.
From a medical point of view however, this is an act of giving women who cannot have kids on their own a chance to be mothers, and there is nothing wrong with it.