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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Beware of corrupt egg donor agencies

Young women are being cautioned to do their homework when answering the call to donate their eggs.

This follows incidents in which South African women responded to advertisements promising all-expenses paid overseas holidays during which they will donate their eggs. The adverts are posted by South African donor ‘agents’ that connect the women with doctors overseas.

Unfortunately a number of these young women have returned home with serious health complications – mostly due to overstimulation caused by the incorrect administration of hormone medicines.

Cape Town fertility psychologist, Lizanne van Waart said; “Donated eggs are a source of hope for many infertile couples and women who donate their eggs to childless couples are among our silent philanthropists. However, the great need for donor eggs has fostered an illegal international market in which childless couples are prepared to pay for eggs.”

International law prohibits payment for any live human matter and this includes human eggs and sperm. As the procedure for harvesting eggs is time-consuming and of some discomfort, donors are generally reimbursed for their time and all associated medical bills. Clinics may not pay for the eggs they harvest and they also may not charge infertile couples for the eggs that they have donated to them.

Van Waart, who together with her husband Dr Johannes van Waart, own Wijnland Fertility Clinic in Cape Town, said that young women should avoid travelling overseas to donate their eggs.

“Falling ill in a far-off country is bad enough but the complications arising from hyper-stimulation or infection can be life-threatening. What’s more the lines can become blurred in terms of a patient’s legal status and questions may arise about whether the cost of medical care will be covered by the donor’s medical cover whilst out of the country and after having put themselves at risk.”

“In the case of egg donors who become ill due to improper medical care or unprofessional procedures, there is a lot of fear about the physical side effects. Patients that I see after such incidents worry about whether they have suffered physical damage resulting in their being unable to conceive their own baby one day and fears arise about where their donated eggs will end up. Deep regret emerges and sometimes the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder present themselves,” she said.

Van Waart also advised that anyone wishing to donate their eggs or sperm should be provided with counselling around the legal and emotional implications of doing so.


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