Thursday, February 24, 2011

What Makes A Good Egg Donor Agency

When you’ve made the important decision to start or expand your family through egg donation, the next vital step you need to take is to select a reputable egg donation agency.

A great egg donation agency is a bit like a doctor with a great bedside manner. An understanding best friend who is always willing to listen and an attentive councillor, who can guide you through challenging times all rolled into one! Infertility is a tough, lonely place – you need all the help you can get, to keep your sanity and your sense of humour in tact.

Not only will a good agency provide you with a large database of wonderful and carefully pre-screened egg donors to choose from, but it will ensure that you receive excellent service from them as well as from the fertility clinic where you will be treated, every step of the way. This means that there will be constant interaction and intervention between the agency, the fertility clinic and the egg donor, and that you will be kept well informed at all times during the process.

An egg donor program that is managed and facilitated by a really good egg donation agency, will help donor recipients to better understand the process, answer any and all questions with patience and clarity. This will save prospective recipients from the trouble of having to wade through and trying to comprehend any medical or legal issues that they would like to clarify.

In South Africa, egg donor agencies are primarily located in the major cities such as Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban. In some instances, donor agencies have donors who are willing to travel to other cities to participate in the program.

When choosing a donor agency, prospective donor egg recipients need to explore important criteria such as the agency’s reputation, its affordability, efficiency, availability of egg donors, professionalism, the period of time it has been in existence, its association with top fertility clinics in the area and the quality of its service.

Another aspect that makes an egg donation agency excellent is its commitment to continuously expand and keep fresh its database of profiled egg donors by recruiting new donors. A great agency will also offer immediate feedback to any queries pertaining to egg donation fertility treatment.

A good egg donor agency doesn’t over promise and under-deliver. A good egg donor agency makes sure that all their donors that are listed as available, ARE available and meet the prescribed criteria. A good egg donor agency knows that by the time a recipient couple has reached the point of egg donation, they are tired, heartbroken and financially and emotionally depleted.

A good egg donor agency does their utmost to ensure that this is the last chapter of the journey that ends with the words “….and they all lived happily ever after”.

Contact Details for Nurture Egg Donor Program

Contact Person: Tertia Albertyn
Contact Number Local: 0824418639
Contact Number International: (+27824418639)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nurture Green...

The very name of our company, Nurture, embodies caring, caretaking and cherishing. We proudly live up to our name, not only in the myriad of ways that we care about the well-being of our clients, but also in the proactive steps we take to extend that same kindness to the environment.

Although Nurture is a small company, consisting of only six women, we strive to make an enormous difference in the world. That is why we also endeavour to be as eco-conscious as possible.

Being ‘green’ is the new black nowadays, but our eco-conscious efforts are not about trying to be trendy or politically correct. It turns out the issue hits close to all of our hearts. In recent years, various studies conducted by researchers around the world have come to the disturbing conclusion that a range of environmental toxins, including traffic pollution, are responsible for an increase in male infertility.

In an effort to minimise our own carbon footprint, all of us at Nurture work from home. Apart from the obvious perks this entail – such as being able to spend more precious time with our families and not having to deal with maddening traffic jams du

ring a daily commute – it also means that we are polluting less, since minimal driving translates into less harmful carbon fumes being released. Not to mention less personal fuming due to road rage! Those are just as harmful to everyone’s general health and well-being.

By telecommuting, we also save money on fuel (score!) and we save paper (and by extension, trees) too, since we handle most of our correspondence online. All of our donor applications, consent forms , recipient applications and agreements, and proof of payment notifications are conveniently done online. We print documents only when absolutely necessary, such as when a recipient requests a fully signed agreement, in which case the document is printed, signed and scanned, before once again being sent back as an online attachment.

By doing our part, we hope to preserve the planet for all of our and your children – present and future.

Contact Details for Nurture Egg Donor Program

Contact Person: Tertia AlbertynContact Number Local: 0824418639
Contact Number International: (+27824418639)

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Nurture Egg Donor's story...

My experience as a Nurture Egg Donor…

I am one of the lucky ones… my husband and I conceived easily and I had 2 healthy, full-term pregnancies. I have been blessed with 2 beautiful, precious, extremely active boys. Many of my friends have not been as lucky, I have watched over the years as many of them struggled to fall pregnant and keep pregnancies. I have watched them go through IVF and even surrogacy and have always said to my husband ‘ I wish there was more I could do to help’.
A few months ago, I went to a fundraising talk for a school in our area and the speaker happened to talk on her experience with surrogacy. I was blown away! Tertia and Kim from the Nurture Egg Donor programme also spoke and presented the egg donation process. They mentioned that they only accepted donors until they were 33. My birthday was a few months away and I was nearing the deadline! I discussed it with my husband and friends and decided that this was something I really wanted to do. I felt like I could finally help someone, even if it was not a close friend, and I knew that if I did not do it now, I would miss the opportunity.

I contacted Nurture, filled in the application form and so the process began. I met with Melany, who explained the entire procedure to me. She answered all my questions and dealt with all of my concerns. She also detailed the risks involved are and exactly what I would be committing to. I have spoken at length about my decision with friends and family. A lot of the questions that were posed to me, were ones that my husband and I discussed prior to making the decision to donate. We were obviously concerned about the hormones I would be injecting, about the actual retrieval procedure, and about the fact that in 20 years time, one of our sons could meet and potentially like a young lady who has half of their genetic make-up!!! My husband is a doctor and after getting all the information from Melany regarding the hormones and actual procedure, he was very comfortable that it was low-risk and well-managed.

I got a phone call to say that my profile had been selected and then received a letter (via Melany) from my recipient. It was the most genuine, heartfelt, grateful letter I have ever received and after reading it and learning more about my recipient and her journey, I knew that I had made the right decision! I had to go for blood tests and a scan at the Cape Fertility Clinic. Dr Heylen and his staff were wonderful – very honest and professional and approachable. I felt extremely comfortable.

I know that a lot of people have found it difficult to understand that my need to help someone actually overrides the 10 days of hormone treatment and the fear of a procedure. The anaesthetic is very light one and I was home the same day. I really feel that 12 days of my life is a small sacrifice to make, to give someone else such a life-changing gift! I can find out (if the recipient couple will allow) the sex of the baby when it is born. This will allow me to discuss things easier with my sons. Once they are old enough to understand, I will have the conversation with them and explain to them, what I chose to do and why.

I have had the reactions I was expecting, like; ‘That is amazing, so selfless, what an awesome thing to do.’ I have also had some that I was not expecting; ‘You are mad! What if the kid comes looking for you in 18 years time?’ The way I look at it is that this is not ‘my’ child, I am not the Mother, I am merely giving potential…. I really feel that the recipient will carry the child and that the baby will be hers completely. I have also been asked; ‘wow, are you getting paid a fat sum of money for doing that?’ and have shut those people up, by explaining that I am not selling my eggs to some market! The money that I am being paid is for my time, travel costs and effort, which I have decided to donate to an NGO that has an awesome Mothers Programme. I want this to be a selfless act, with absolutely no financial gain!

I begin with the injections tomorrow and the retrieval date is booked for 12 days time. So, I will write after that to fill you all in on how that goes! I will certainly do everything I can and can only pray that this works for the recipient couple!!! I have found that it helps when I feel anxious, to put myself in their shoes…. They have far more at stake and put in perspective, I have nothing to be scared of and am inspired by their faith and perseverance. So far the experience has been a very positive, humbling one!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010


Nurture founder, Tertia Loebenberg answers questions around Surrogacy and IVF/Egg Donation and fertlity issues...

It seems about 25% of surrogacies require donor eggs - under what circumstances do surrogate couples require donor eggs?
When a woman is unable to get pregnant, or stay pregnant, and it has been established that female fertility issues are the cause. The reasons why, could be grouped into two main categories: the quality of her eggs could be inadequate to conceive (due to age, genetic reasons or other), or her womb is unable to sustain a pregnancy. In the majority of cases, her inability to conceive is due to egg factors, but sometimes both her eggs are of insufficient quality and her womb is unable to sustain a pregnancy. In that case, she would need an egg donor and a gestational surrogate.

Could the egg donor be the surrogate mum?
Theoretically yes, but it adds a layer of complexity that is best avoided. If the intended mother’s eggs are of insufficient quality, it is strongly recommended that she makes use of an egg donor as well.

What does the law say wrt egg donation?
At this present time there are two laws which are relevant to donor eggs:

1. The Human Tissue Act

This law states that it is illegal to buy or sell any type of human tissue. Egg donors are not allowed to ‘sell’ their eggs. The donation must be done purely for altruistic reasons. However, they are entitled to compensation for travel expenses, time away from the work place, and discomfort from the injections and procedure.

The Human tissue act also requires the donor and recipient to remain anonymous to each other.

2. The Children’s Act
The surrogacy section of the new Children’s Act is still not yet enacted, although it is close to being signed off. Currently a standard adoption process must still take place between the surrogate and the commissioning couple.

This law states that the birth mother is the legal mother of the child. This implies that once the donor has donated her eggs, she no longer has any legal rights or responsibilities toward the child born from the eggs. The reverse applies in the case of a surrogate carrying a child.

Both recipient and donor are required to sign a consent form acknowledging that they have been informed and understand the legal aspects of egg donation.

Are things the same if it is donor sperm required? Yes

Is this market being abused? How so?
It isn’t abused, although there is a perception, by a few people who like to sensationalize this type of thing, that egg donors are simple, uninformed young women who lured or enticed and submitted to the process without any idea of what they are getting themselves into. Firstly, our donors are all 21 and older, most of them are in their late 20’s. Secondly, these are educated, intelligent women who are making an informed decision. They get briefed thoroughly by ourselves, and then again by the medical professionals. They are carefully screened both by a qualified psychologist (who will go over all the issues with them once again), and then again by the doctors.

How does payment for eggs get administered?
The egg donor is not paid for her eggs, she is however compensated for her travelling costs, time and inconvenience.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Egg Donation – A Truly Special Gift

Imagine if you could give the gift of life to somebody, if you could put an
end to a fellow human being’s heart ache. If you are a woman between 21 and 34, you can, simply by donating some of your eggs. This gift could give infertile mothers-in-waiting the chance to have what so many of us take for granted – a child.

Nurture is a South African egg donor and surrogacy programme set up in 2008 to respond to the increasing demand for donor eggs. The first successful egg donation in humans was achieved in 1984, but, while it represented a major breakthrough in modern reproductive treatment, egg donation was still out of reach for many desperate South African mothers-to-be.

The brainchild of Tertia Albertyn, an infertility patient who conceived her twins on her 9th IVF, and Melany Bartok, a former egg donor, Nurture was set up make egg donation affordable and accessible to local couples. “Infertility is something I am passionate about,” explains Albertyn. “There was such a need for a local player to come onto the scene, one run by people who really understand fertility. Helping others gives some kind of meaning and sense to all the pain and loss I went through.”

One in every six couples struggles to conceive. That is not an insignificant number. And of these, about 35 per cent of the cause for infertility rests with the woman. Vitalab Fertility Clinic’s Dr Merwyn Jacobsen says infertility in women can be attributed to a number of problems, including having poor quality eggs, or no eggs at all: “Many women are unable to produce eggs from their own ovaries. The early onset of menopause leaves a woman with no hormones, and no eggs. Some women’s bodies fail to ovulate, while exposure to auto immune diseases and cancer treatments can kill or harm eggs. Some genetic diseases may also be carried over in the eggs, making it difficult to conceive.”

To date, Nurture has recorded a success rate of over 65% per attempt(which includes eight sets of twins) which in itself is remarkable, as Albertyn explains: “These are women who have been trying for years and years with no success and lots of losses. It gives such divine hope.” Albertyn credits the top-class clinics Nurture deals with – including Vitalab – for much of their success. “I have 100 percent faith in the clinics we use. This is their area of expertise and they are among the best in the world. We know that when we send our donors and our recipients to a clinic like Vitalab, they will be well looked after and have the best possible chance at success. We are also very strict about which donors to bring on board, which adds to our success.”

Prospective donors can apply online ( and complete an initial application which is screened by Nurture. Once screened and accepted, the prospective donor must complete a comprehensive application form which, when approved, is followed by a face-to-face interview. “Perhaps one of our biggest strengths is our database of donors,” says Albertyn. “We like to offer each intended parent a large variety of good potential matches. Some parents-to-be focus more on the physical attributes of the donor (so that these match those of the intended mother) while others place more importance on the donor’s personality, her academic achievements or sporting abilities. As diverse as we are as individuals, is as different each of our decision-making process is. It is important to remember that all our donors are anonymous, and only baby pictures are shown to the potential recipient.”

Unfortunately, while Nurture is justifiably proud of its donor database, there are certain categories of donors which do not have a strong presence. Donors of Indian and Asian descent do not feature much on the database, and Albertyn says there are not nearly enough Black donors. “Infertility, and therefore things like egg donation, are not as readily acceptable or spoken about in certain cultures, which means that fewer Indian, Asian and Black potential donors know about the opportunity to become an egg donor. This is a great pity as there are so many recipients out there who are desperate for someone to help them.”

Admittedly, becoming an egg donor is not a decision to take lightly. Donors should carefully consider the emotional, psychological and medical implications of becoming an egg donor. The medical procedure involves the removal of the eggs via vaginal aspiration, and the donors will be placed under conscious sedation – the same procedure as IVF. It is important to know that donating your eggs does not mean you are ‘using up’ your supply of eggs. Instead, the donated eggs are ones that would have normally gone to waste with your monthly cycle. Egg donation is a truly wonderful thing; it gives hope where there was previously none. There are an increasing number of women out there who can finally call themselves ‘mother’ because of the generosity of our donors.”

As for the recipient mother, the wonder of this gift of life is unbounded. According to Albertyn, while there is a definite sense of loss when she realises that her child won’t have her DNA, it helps enormously that she will still be playing an important role: that of carrying the baby. As one recipient mother wrote to Nurture: “being on the other side…. I can’t believe how much it (where the egg came from) doesn’t matter. It isn’t possible for me to love this child any more. He’s 100% mine, no matter how he was conceived, or from whom. I know there are so many people struggling with this decision, some feeling that they just can’t go the donor egg route. I’m telling you, once they feel that baby kick, or hold that child in their arms - nothing else matters. I wish I could put them in my life for a day so they could truly see. I wish I could convince everyone who is sitting on the fence with this issue. I have no doubt that some people will miss out on this wonderful opportunity because of the fears they have about donor eggs…..”

For more information on the egg donor program, please visit

About Vitalab Fertility Clinic

Vitalab is a unique fertility clinic in South Africa in that it is one of the country’s only comprehensive fertility facilities. Everything from counselling services, pathology facilities, a clinical hypno-fertility service, dietician and radiology department are located under the same roof as the fully licensed IVF operating theatre. All Vitalab’s practitioners are exclusively focused on infertility. The clinic is fast establishing itself as South Africa’s benchmark for assisted conception, combining the most recent advances in medical therapy with an open, holistic approach and the highest levels of patient care. For more information on fertility options, visit

About Nurture
Nurture - South Africa’s premier Egg Donor and Surrogacy program is the creation of two fabulous South Africans who have experienced the heartbreak of infertility first hand - Melany as an egg donor, and Tertia as an infertility patient who went through 9 IVFs to achieve her dream. Joined by two other IVF veterans, Kim (17 IVFs) and Jacci (currently undergoing IVF), the girls at Nurture make a formidable team who combine the best of heart and soul to provide truly excellent service. For more information about egg donation and surrogacy, visit

Issued on behalf of Vitalab Fertility Clinic by:
Jenni Newman Public Relations
Jenni Newman CEO
Tel: 27 (0) 11 772 1022
Cell: 27 (0) 82 882 8888

Friday, November 12, 2010

Would you become an egg donor?

What makes a woman willing to give up her eggs? Two donors explain their thought processes.

Your best friend just broke the news that she can’t have a baby. You’d love to help but the question is whether you’re ready to part with your precious eggs. Are you ready to be an egg donor?

An egg donation is the process by which a woman provides one or several (usually 10-15) eggs (ova, oocytes) for purposes of assisted reproduction or biomedical research. For assisted reproduction purposes, egg donation involves the process of in vitro fertilization as the eggs are fertilized in the laboratory.

So scientific terms aside, many people wonder what makes a woman want to become an egg donor? Two donors explain. (Names have been kept anonymous for privacy reasons).

Donor 1’s story

“My best friend was conceived by egg donation and she decided to donate her eggs so someone out there could have a family, just like her mother was able to.

“She spoke to me about it and at first I thought she was crazy but over time I understood her reasons and decided I would support her, I would go through the process with her.”

Donor 2’s story

“5 years ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She had big brown eyes that stared across at me from the other end of the room, and I know she couldn't see, but I know in my heart she knew where Mummy was, she knew.

“A year later, I found myself to be a single mum to this little angel who had done no wrong in her life. I feared that I would resent her as I could see her father in her, but that was not true. That little girl made me strong, she made me realize that my heart was bigger than I ever imagined, I loved her so much that I would move the world for her.

“Life moved on and that little girl, as small as she was, always saw herself as being my protector, I thought it was meant to be the other way around. As the years have gone by, I realized that yes, I did want to have another baby, just like my daughter, but my situation in life did not permit. I still had so much to do in life.

“One day I was on the internet and I saw an advert for egg donation, and that is when the thought crossed my mind: I want another baby but life does not permit me to have one now. There are women out there who are struggling to conceive and I could help them. I am young and healthy and I can help another woman experience the joy, the pleasure, the sheer magic of having a child. Another woman can have her dream fulfilled if I could but help.”

Research shows that donating your eggs is safe if it’s done correctly and with the correct professional medical care. However, the real concern isn’t a physical one but more an emotional one.

It’s not just about giving up your eggs. It’s about giving up a piece of you. While some women feel they can do it and have no emotional attachment to it, others don’t. But those who do donate are giving an amazing gift.

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Article originally in Parent24