Monday, November 29, 2010

SURROGACY Q&A

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.


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