Children are a blessing and its evident by the number of couples who are raising their own or trying to conceive. In as much, it looks easy bearing children naturally, some couples really struggle to make their own babies and many are subjected to unnecessary pressure, ridicule, and insensitive interrogations as to why they do not have children yet.
Other than adoption, some couples seek alternatives from fertility clinics to help them achieve their dreams of becoming parents and some of the procedures include; surrogacy, egg donation and freezing eggs to conceive later.
Egg donation is a biological process used to help women who cannot conceive naturally to have children. The egg is usually harvested from a donor (The other woman) and her viable eggs are then fertilized and transferred to the woman with fertility issues or surrogate in the hope of achieving a pregnancy. This procedure is known as in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
In Kenya, many university girls or women aged below 30 donate their eggs to receive monetary compensation and make ”quick cash”. Some regret the decision while others make it an occasional business venture which in turn finances their lifestyle and expenses.
The donation process has been turned into a quick way to earn money by qualified Kenyan donors from fertility clinics in Nairobi and major towns. The clinics, in turn, sell the eggs to couples struggling with fertility and the profit margins are very high because the process involves a lot of invasive medical procedures.
Who qualifies to donate eggs?
Many Nairobi-based fertility clinics have their own criteria for selecting the candidates most suitable to donate their eggs. Generally, the donor must be in good health and of sound mind but the following factors are put into consideration. To qualify for donation a woman must be;
- A woman’s age must be between 18-30 because her eggs are at the highest quality with that age range.
- She should be a healthy non-smoking individual who does not abuse drugs.
- Her height and weight should be within the normal range mostly below 65kg and BMI below 30.
- Should be free from STDs.
- She should have regular periods.
- Without any psychological disorders.
- Willing to undergo a medical and psychological evaluation.
- To be readily available to proceed with the egg donation program.
- No family history of recurrent bad health.
The receivers of the donated eggs (aspiring mothers) mostly focus on how the donors look and they have preferences regarding physical appearances like hair- and eye color or physique.
Money aside, choosing to be an egg donor means one is providing a chance to infertile couples to start their family because they are unable to conceive naturally due to the variety of infertility reasons.
At the clinic, the egg donor is required to produce the National Identification card, school certificates, and a decent photograph for starters.
How much does the donor earn from a single procedure?
A donor is usually compensated based on previous egg donations and biological factors. The compensation ranges from Ksh.50,000-70,000 depending on the clinic and donor for one session. Some clinics compensate regular and high profile donors with USD 4000-7000 due to their high quality of eggs and good genetic factors.
Donors with high academic qualifications also bag huge amounts of money because of their level of intelligence and IQ.
Many Kenyan fertility clinics usually advertise and call for voluntary donors regularly attracting masses of people eyeing the compensation fees. Potential Kenyan donors show up in large numbers to be vetted and hopefully considered by the gynecologists and experts.
If they qualify for a donation procedure, they receive their payment once the eggs are harvested. Since a woman’s cycle happens on a monthly basis, the chosen donor makes frequent trips to the fertility clinics for the preparation of egg harvesting. Each visit prior to the egg donation procedure is also compensated to cater for transport and additional expenses incurred.
The women seeking donor eggs through IVF have to part with Ksh500,000-1,000,000 and the huge amount includes the cost of the procedure and the treatment for the donor before the egg harvesting and extra costs should the donor develop any complications.
The donation process may seem easy but many girls have it rough because of the side effects of the strong hormonal medication used to harvest plenty of eggs. Before a donor donates her eggs, she is prescribed with medication that stops their normal menstrual cycle.
The donor’s ovaries are then stimulated with a series of fertility drugs that make them produce several eggs at a go. This process is known as hyperstimulation. The donors usually self-administer the egg stimulating medication by injecting it under their skin or muscle. Rarely, a woman may develop severe ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and it occurs when too many eggs develop in the ovaries thus leading to hospitalization.
Some women can produce as many as 40 eggs while some manage a little as five.
Because of the hyperstimulation, the donor is also at her higher chance of getting pregnant and is therefore required to abstain from sex or use a barrier contraceptive such as condoms to avoid fertilizing the eggs that are supposed to be harvested after the procedure. Drinking alcohol and exercising are also prohibited during this period as it can affect the efficiency of the prescribed medication.
The donor also undergoes frequent blood tests and ultrasound examinations to monitor their reactions to the medications. The harvesting process takes around 30 minutes and the donor is put on painkillers, sedatives, or an anesthetic.
Shortly before the procedure, the donor receives an injection in preparation for the process. An ultrasound probe is then inserted into the vagina and a needle is used to remove the egg from each ovarian follicle. The more the egg follicles, the better.
Some donors may get overwhelmed with emotions and sadness and they are usually monitored with the help of a psychologist to overcome any anxiety or regret.
Side effects of egg donation
The egg donation process can be physically painful, emotionally overwhelming to the donor. Also, there is always a risk that a needle used to retrieve the eggs from the ovaries may puncture the surrounding tissues or organs causing injury, bleeding, or infection.
The hormones injected into the donor are said to be very strong and have side effects like hot flashes, body aches, fatigue and temporary weight gain, headaches, missed periods, and decreased libido.
Also, legal documents are signed to prevent the donor from claiming her harvested eggs in the future. The hospital only keeps tabs when complications related to the harvesting procedure have arisen.
The donation process can also affect the donor’s future health, well-being, and their ability to have children. a bacterial infection might also occur following the removal of the eggs and the gynecologist might prescribe antibiotics to prevent it.
Therefore, doing this procedure frequently is highly discouraged for the donor’s well-being.
How do couples identify their desired donor?
Most of the time the medical aspects of the donor will be of much greater importance as opposed to the donor’s physical appearance and personal traits obviously attract the intended parents. This means that the selection process is not entirely based on the looks of the donor.
Also, the eggs of a donor who has children before are more likely to be chosen for IVF because it will be easier for the donor to donate her eggs and distance herself from the baby born through egg donation. A donor who has her own children is, therefore, less attached to how her eggs were utilized as compared to a childless lady.
Parents who have decided to make use of the eggs gets access to the donor’s database and they search among the donors in the system until they find the one that matches their expectations and wishes of a child.
Many fertility clinics keep the donor’s identity confidential. Once in a while, the recipients of the eggs will receive a bit of information about the donor but will unlikely not meet each other or know each other’s names. A picture may be shown to illustrate the donor’s physique and appearance.
Is egg donation worth it for quick cash?
If you are looking to earn money through donating your eggs and you meet the eligibility requirements, be assured that the process is very invasive and long contrary to many people’s beliefs and assumptions as it may take up to five weeks in preparation for harvesting.
The process requires frequent visits to the hospital, hormonal injections that have major side effects and complications may also arise if things go wrong. If you have attachment issues, the thought of donating your eggs that one day may develop into an embryo will be emotionally damaging. If it’s done frequently, one may also experience infertility in the future due to hormonal overload in the system and lack of eggs.
The good side of donating an egg will be helping a couple experiencing infertility issues have children of their own and the token of appreciation is the money received although it is not sustainable long-term.
Egg donation should be done out of goodwill other than a money-making process. Many women who have undergone the process rarely do it again because of its adverse effects. However, if a person feels comfortable and ready, they should donate their eggs with the help and guidance of a reputable fertility clinic after intense assessment.