Friday, October 29, 2010

Entrepreneurs SA with FNB and 567 Cape Talk

Infertility is a growing common problem. About 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the United States ages 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Tertia Albertyn from Nurture, features as today's finalist in Entrepreneurs SA with FNB and 567 Cape Talk Radio. You can listen to the on air interview with Cape Talk held today here.

Tertia Albertyn understands the importance of having children – she had to go through nine in-vitro fertilisation procedures before realising her own dream. Her experience with infertility led directly to the formation of the Nurture Egg Donor Programme, based in Durbanville.

Tertia says Nurture is run by a fabulous group of women, who make a formidable team and put their hearts and souls into providing a truly excellent service for the would-be parents. She says that this is the best job in the world, as they help people to make babies!

The organisation takes pride in providing the best care and support for the donors and the intended parents, facilitating the process from application through to donation and beyond. In a nutshell, says Tertia, we care, we call, we write, and ultimately, we rock!

The company has a comprehensive database of quality egg donors from all ethnic groups and is associated with all the leading fertility clinics across SA. Discrimination is frowned upon and clients include single parents, gay couples and even straight, married couples.

SA is rated as one of the top 10 medical tourism destinations, so reproductive tourism offers a huge opportunity. Tertia is looking for mentorship to take the business to the next level and compete with international fertility destinations. This would include web development, entrepreneurial skills and a clever, cutting edge marketing and PR campaign. Nurture is also always looking for suitable donors. You can check out the requirements on

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Egg Donation - Giving the gift of life

For 85% of the population, making a baby requires little more than a kiss, a cuddle and a few meaningful moments (or longer if you are lucky). For some it requires even less. However for 15% of the population it requires a bit more than the kiss, cuddle and sex routine. For some it takes months and even years. And for the heartbroken few, no matter how many times they do the baby-making dance, absolutely nothing happens. That is when hopeful mothers-to-be turn their hopes to assistance of another kind – egg donation.

The first successful egg donation in humans was achieved in 1984 and represented a major breakthrough in modern reproductive treatment. It gave hope to many women who were unable to conceive using their own eggs.

As egg donation comes out of the closet and becomes more mainstream, and as infertility issues are steadily on the increase, the demand for egg donors is increasing.

Although egg donation has been around for many years, it was previously aimed mostly at the international medical tourists who were among the few wealthy enough to afford it. But all that has changed with the launch of a new egg donor program in South Africa, one that is aimed specifically at local egg donors and future parents.

Nurture Egg Donor Program is the brainchild of two of the most passionate people in the world of infertility. Tertia Albertyn, an infertility patient who conceived her twins on her 9th IVF and Melany Bartok, an ex egg donor herself.

“We wanted to create an egg donor program that was affordable and available to local couples”, says Tertia. “Infertility is something I am passionate about. Helping others gives some kind of meaning and sense to all the pain and loss I went through”.

An egg donor is a healthy young woman who is between the ages of 20 and 34. These special young women donate a few of their eggs to a recipient who is unable to produce eggs from her own ovaries. Following their removal, the eggs are fertilized with the recipient’s male partner’s sperm or with donor sperm. The resulting embryos are then placed into the recipient’s uterus. She then has the amazing opportunity of becoming pregnant, carrying, and delivering a child to finally create the family she has so long hoped for. A donor gives one of the most beautiful gifts possible—the gift of potentially growing a family.

The first step in the process is for the potential donors to complete an initial application (available online at, which is used to screen issues like weight (donors may not be either under weight nor overweight), health, menstrual cycle and contraception. If these criteria are met, donors then complete a comprehensive application with full medical history, genetic heritage, physical and personal characteristics of themselves and their genetic family, their reasons for wanting to donate etc. Once approved, a face to face information session is scheduled in which donor are fully informed of entire process involved – what to expect, what is involved, what, if any, the potential risks are. If the donor decides they want to go ahead with the process, their anonymous profile is made available to view by potential recipients.

Once a donor has been chosen by the intended parents, she has to undergo a psychological assessment by a registered psychologist, as well as a full medical with the fertility clinic, including various blood tests etc. It is only after this process that the donation goes ahead. None of these costs are borne by the donor.

As is evident by the description above, the application and selection process for becoming an egg donor is a fairly rigorous one. “We want to make sure these young women are mentally, emotionally and physically healthy enough to undergo egg donation”, says Melany. “It is not a decision to be taken lightly, but most of our donors return for a second and third donation because they realize what a meaningful gift they are giving”.

Donors are compensated ZAR5,000 for their time, travelling costs and any inconveniences experienced during the donation process. This figure is guided by the South African Medical Ethics Committee and is not intended to pay for the eggs donated as donors donate their eggs as a gift of hope, not for monetary reward. The compensation also does not even begin to come close to reflecting the immense gratitude the Intended Parents feel.

“Egg donation is a truly wonderful thing; it gives hope where there previously was none. There are an increasing number of women out there who can finally call themselves ‘mother’ because of the generosity of others. We are honoured to be part of this process”.

For more information on the egg donor program, please visit

Melany Bartok
Melany has unparalleled insight into the world of egg donation. Not only is she the country’s leading Egg Donor Director, but having donated twice herself, she intimately understands the thrill and privilege of a being chosen as an egg donor. Melany’s honest, passionate and dedicated relationship with her donors is at the heart of her success. Melany lives in Table View with her two charming huskies and equally charming husband. Contact Melany on or 0766 848489

Tertia Albertyn
Tertia Albertyn is a recovering infertile and now mother to twins conceived on her 9th IVF. She has written extensively about her personal experience with infertility, both on her award winning blog ( and in her book ‘So Close’, detailing her five year battle to conceive. She is passionate about infertility, and has dedicated her time to assisting those who are still in the trenches. Tertia has a MBA from the University of Cape Town, and lives in Durbanville with her husband and two children. Contact Tertia on or 0824418639

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Black women flock to be egg donors

Fourfold increase seen in practice once regarded as 'culturally taboo'

Young black women in South Africa are "reaching out to desperate couples" like never before in an attempt to help them have children.

The demand for black female egg donors has skyrocketed, with four times as many black women becoming donors - a far cry from recent years when it was considered "culturally taboo".

Black women now make up half of all new egg donors in South Africa, representing a fourfold increase from previous years.

A snap survey has revealed that women aged between 21 and 35 are flocking to egg donation agencies to help infertile women realise their dream of having their own babies.

Four fertility agencies this week revealed that, on average, 80 new applications from potential donors were received each month.

Tertia Albertyn, founder of Nurture, a donation agency in Cape Town, insisted that the women on her list genuinely wanted to help others and were not swayed by money - donors can expect to pocket about R5000 per egg cycle.

She also said there was a great demand for black babies.

"Black women, like their white counterparts, are now having children later in life, which often results in ovarian failure, particularly due to age.

"And, from a demographic point of view, you're going to have more black people needing black egg donors."

However, she said the issue of egg donation was still not openly discussed among black women.

"Most (black recipients) choose not to talk about it. A women's fertility is integral to how she is perceived in society. Her worth as a woman or wife is tied up with her ability to conceive."

Five-times donor and bank consultant Sibongile Quvane's first egg donation in 2006 resulted in a successful birth to a British couple.

The 34-year-old single mother from Summer Greens in Cape Town said she felt "fulfilled" that she had been able to make "a positive difference to the lives of a couple who were desperate to have a baby".

In the aftermath she also successfully requested a meeting with the recipient couple.

"What touched me the most is the joy that the mother felt, the way she expressed herself and her emotions. She was so grateful and thanked me repeatedly," said Quvane.

She said she had been emotionally prepared for the process and did not feel any attachment to the baby.

"There never was any attachment. I'm not affected by it and I don't have days where I sit and think about the child.

"I'm not the one who gave birth to the child and I believe that the one who gives birth to the child is the true mother."

She said she felt a sense of pride knowing that she had played a role in giving something to those in need.

"What I've done is priceless." Quvane has since donated her eggs four more times.

Read more...... Times Live: By SUBASHNI NAIDOO

Monday, October 18, 2010

Baby born from 20-year-old frozen embryo...

Cryopreservation was once the domain of sci-fi novels and B-rate movies. (Think Encino Man.) Frozen embryos are something of a new ethical frontier in IVF. Because of improved fertility drugs and lab techniques, the average IVF cycle now yields more embryos than it once did. Many of those end up in the freezer, where they keep remarkably well.

It’s increasingly real, as the recent birth of a healthy boy from a frozen embryo created 20 years earlier shows. The birth, which is reported in a study in the online edition of the journal Fertility and Sterility, sets a record. Until now, no embryo frozen for this long has resulted in a live birth. Go science! [popularscience]

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fertility Tourism, destination South Africa...

Prohibitive laws surrounding egg donation, the lack of available egg donors and the high cost of health care in many countries has given rise to “fertility tourism” – where hopeful parents from around the world travel to a foreign country like South Africa to undergo fertility treatment. The internet has made it easy for couples to access such services online and to apply to receive treatment.

One such reputable organization is Nurture, South Africa’s premier egg donor and surrogacy program that is at the forefront of first class egg donation in South Africa. Nurture has associations with many fertility clinics in South Africa and facilitates the process of finding, choosing and matching with the egg donor.

Nurture’s database of donors is available online through a password-protected web site and contains details of our anonymous, rigorously screened donors from all ethnic groups. What makes Nurture unique is that there is no waiting list. The only wait involved is in choosing your donor and then waiting while she undergoes the various blood tests and medical examinations. Within 8-10 weeks of choosing a donor, the embryo transfer will happen.

Egg donation in South Africa has been going since 1986 and has a success rate of over 70 percent. With some of the world’s top doctors and a high quality private health care system, South Africa is a prime destination for couples to undergo fertility treatment. Fertility treatment that might cost around $30,000 in the USA will cost a fraction of this in South Africa.

Egg donation in South Africa is anonymous and the compensation to egg donors is strictly regulated, which means that donors donate for altruistic reasons rather than for financial gain. This ensures that our donors are donating for all the right reasons – to help others become parents.

Why choose Nurture and South Africa for your egg donation holiday? Well, not only are we the most qualified bunch of women to assist you in your fertility journey, but we’re also an everything-friendly company: It doesn’t matter if you are in a same-sex relationship, a not-same sex relationship or even in a no-sex non-relationship, we believe that anyone who has the love and capacity to become a parent should be afforded the opportunity to realize their dream.

The added bonus? Cape Town, where most of the medical tourism takes place has been declared one of the most ‘gay friendly’ cities in the world! What better place to create your fertility journey than in one of the world’s most beautiful cities that includes both natural beauty and first-world shopping havens?

If you would like to find out more about us, browse our web site at, or better yet, contact us personally:

We would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Apparently, a new IVF method is 'more effective'

Fertility and in vitro fertilization are well-served by professional clinics. Trying to get pregnant? Researching IVF? I found this interesting article, while reading the news today.....

Washington - Researchers using a microscope and time-lapse photography believe they have developed a method for predicting which test-tube embryos are the most likely to develop properly, and are licensing development of a commercial test.

Their findings, published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, also provide some new insights into the development of days-old embryos, such as how babies inherit some genes from the mother and some from the father.

They said the new test could help fertility clinics pick the best embryo to implant in the womb.

This would save mothers from having several treatments and help improve on the current method of implanting multiple embryos to try to get one pregnancy and risk multiple births in the process.

"Our results shed light on human embryo development," wrote Renee Reijo Pera of Stanford University in California and colleagues. "Our methods and algorithms may provide an approach for early diagnosis of embryo potential in assisted reproduction."

Success rate

So called test-tube babies are conceived by uniting egg and sperm in a lab dish and transferring the embryo into a woman's uterus to develop. Most do not develop properly and labs have been looking for ways to improve their success rate.

Although it is not recommended, some IVF clinics will implant more than one embryo into the mother's womb - leading to the birth of triplets, quadruplets and even more. Such babies almost always are born too early and face lifelong health problems.

All pregnancies are tenuous, even those achieved the old fashioned way. The March of Dimes, a charity founded to battle birth defects, estimates that as many as 50% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage - most often before a woman knows she is pregnant.

For the new test the researchers watched embryos divide and develop from the time sperm met egg in a lab dish. As the embryos split and grew, they also tested gene expression - looking at which genes activated, and when.

To their surprise, they found that almost from the very beginning some of the handful of cells had different sets of active genes.

An embryo's fate - whether it would develop normally or not - seemed determined in many cases from the moment of conception and relied heavily on the mother's egg cell, they found. Embryos most likely to form a ball of cells called a blastocyst developed at a certain, measurable rate, they found.


Auxogyn, Inc, a privately held medical technology company, said in a statement it had acquired an exclusive license from Stanford University to develop products related to the findings.

"Blastocyst formation is a critical time point in human embryo development and provides more objective criteria for selecting which embryo(s) to transfer," Lissa Goldenstein, president and CEO of Auxogyn, said in a statement.

"For years, researchers have searched for ways to predict the embryos most likely to reach the blastocyst stage in order to enable earlier transfer and ultimately improve live birth rates for in vitro fertilisation procedures."

The company estimates that there are 500 clinics in the US providing in vitro fertilisation or IVF services, with combined annual revenues of nearly $2bn.

- Reuters

Friday, October 8, 2010

Choosing between Egg Donor and Surrogate

How to cope when they say,“I’m sorry…we’ve done all we can do apart from egg donation or surrogacy".

Article sponsored by Souad Dreyfus of Open Arms Consultants

You’ve tried so hard. You’re overwhelmed and emotionally bankrupt. You’ve spent endless amounts of energy and dollars in your longing to create your family. But tests, time and tears have not produced results, and now you are wondering…what’s next? Do I give up my dream? What about egg donation or surrogacy?

You are not alone.
Stop. Breathe. Step back and know that you are not alone. There are kind, caring professionals who can gently guide you toward your best decision. With your partner, talk to a counselor, find a support group or agency and process this difficult time in a healthy, open way.

Take time out.
Take time for yourself when you have exhausted traditional means of conceiving. Pause before moving to the next step. Pamper your body and soul with a healthy diet, gentle exercise, stress-busting rest and relaxation. Nurture your spirit with quiet prayer, meditation or readings according to your beliefs. Regroup.

Do your homework.
Choosing whether egg donation or surrogacy is right for you requires arming yourself with knowledge, but help is at hand. Websites, organizations and agencies offer information and consulting. Read testimonials of others who have created a family with the help of others. Learn.

Considerations: choosing an egg donor.
If your doctor reports that you need an egg donor, you may grieve about losing the genetic link to your child. Take time to process this loss. Many intended parents choose to focus on the joy of raising a child regardless of physical characteristics. This child will be your family’s treasure…chosen, planned for and delivered with great thoughtfulness.

Working with a reputable egg donor agency or a fertility clinic can be critically important, as they can help find an ideal match from a broad spectrum of donors with various cultural backgrounds and physical characteristics. Egg Donor agencies and fertility clinics often pre-qualify donors with requirements relating to age, health, education and maturity.

One of your biggest decisions will be whether to choose a donor who is anonymous, semi-known or known. An anonymous donor is one you will never meet. A semi-known donor is one who shares limited information. A known donor is friend, relative or even a stranger you have chosen through an agency, but one you will meet within agreed-upon boundaries.

Considerations: choosing a surrogate.
Surrogacy is the act of carrying a child for prospective parents. The child may be genetically theirs, or the egg and sperm may be obtained from donors. Many agencies offer online surrogate matching, and determining whether these agencies are authentic and qualified is the first step. Look for a real address and phone number. Ask if you can contact references.

Once you’ve selected the surrogacy agency, choosing a particular surrogate mother requires careful review of their qualifications (criminal background check, previous delivery records, support system, age, healthy BMI... ) and motives (materialistic, empathy with the infertile wife, the drive to generate parenthood for others...). You’ll speak personally with the candidate. Agencies may arrange conference calls before an actual face-to-face meeting. Be patient, as finding the right surrogate mom is beyond important.

“We were very skeptical,” shared one mother-to-be about her twins’ surrogate. “About 45 seconds into the conversation, we fell in love with her!” The parents soon realized that their surrogate shared values that meshed into their family’s culture. After meeting face-to-face, the mother-to-be said, “It was like it was meant to be! When we hugged, I felt like I was hugging my own sister.” Of course, not every surrogacy results in such kinship, but using a reputable agency’s selective matching process can significantly improve your results.

Are you ready to take the next step?
There’s so much to think about. Take time out. Learn all you can. Contact a reputable agency. And finally, reach deep inside and pull out your secret weapon: women’s intuition. If a voice inside insists on keeping the dream alive of starting your family, then there’s only one thing to do: chase your dreams!

Original Article found at:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Egg donation in Cape Town

Steeped in history and set against the stunning and world-famous backdrop of Table Mountain, the beautiful, sea-side city of Cape Town is regarded as one of the top holiday destinations in the world.

Also affectionately known as the Mother City, South Africa’s oldest city is living up to that nickname in a rather literal way these days as an increasing amount of people from all over the world travel there to undergo fertility treatment.

In recent years, Cape Town has built up a fantastic reputation as an IVF and egg donor hub. The city is home to world class fertility clinics that use state of the art technology to provide service and treatment equivalent to what is offered abroad, but at far more affordable rates – even after the cost of travel had been added.

Not only is the treatment reasonably priced, but it is also highly successful, which is why Cape Town-based fertility clinics are rated among the best in the world. Another factor that makes Cape Town so desirable for egg donor fertility treatment is the instant access patients get to the large database of donors – there is no waiting list! The wait for a donor lasts only as long as it takes for prospective parents to choose a donor that meets all their requirements. Within three months of choosing a donor, future parents could already be back at home, with a baby on the way.

Although donors in Cape Town – and South Africa as a whole – remain anonymous, future parents are able to view full information of the prospective donor, including her family history, education history, medical information, etc. as well as view photographs of the donor as a baby and toddler.

The donors, who are healthy young female volunteers between 21 and 34 years of age, do receive reimbursement for their donation, but it essentially only covers incidentals they may have incurred while participating in the donor program, such as travelling to and from the clinic. The amount has been carefully regulated to ensure that donors participate for altruistic reasons only. South African egg donors are therefore not motivated by money, but are really doing this as an act of extreme kindness to make a genuine difference in someone else’s life.

South Africa’s clear legislation and ethics surrounding egg donation are additional factors that set Cape Town apart as a favourite fertility destination. This ensures that not only are the rights of the future parents and their prospective children taken care of, but the well-being and safety of the donor always remain paramount as well.

Excellent medical care, a wide range of available donors, similar cultures, the same language and a very favourable exchange rate make Cape Town the ideal destination to pursue donor egg IVF for both foreign and local fertility patients.

Many patients who do travel to Cape Town for fertility treatment opt to combine the treatment with an unforgettable holiday in one of the world’s most beautiful cities. While they wait, they can relax on the city’s many gorgeous beaches, shop, dine out, take the cable car up to take in the spectacular view from the top of Table Mountain, and take a ferry to Robben Island to see where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for so many years. The comfort and beauty of the Mother City will definitely contribute to a stress-free, successful egg donation/IVF experience.