The how, where, risks, laws & cost of egg donation in Nigeria

Egg donation in Nigeria.

Our society has defined childbearing as the foremost charge of the Creator and the main purpose for marriage. Childbearing has been elevated to be the highest measure of success of couples in this clime, and any childless couples are looked with pity irrespective of their material or other successes.

We have a culture that places childless couples in distress situation and may drive them crazy. If you have experienced infertility or has seen someone going through this challenge, you will understand how egg donation(or sperm donation) is humanitarian response to the distress call of our neighbours and the zenith of our contribution to humanity.

It will be nice of us as individuals, stakeholders and as a nation to adopt and advance the practice of sperm and egg donation same way we promote blood donation and transfusion.

Now allow me to shed more light on donor eggs and egg donation in Nigeria.

What is egg donation?

Egg donation is a process by which a woman (called the donor) provides her eggs (ovum) to another woman ( called the recipient) so as to assist her in getting pregnant/conceiving a baby.

Is it safe?

On health grounds, egg donation is medically safe. Medicine has shown that a woman is born with an estimated 2 million immature eggs and a vast majority of these eggs will die through a process known as apoptosis. Of this number, only 400 eggs will mature naturally. Egg donation has no effect on this number. It is safe and does not affect your getting pregnant in future.

who is eligible for egg donation? the selection criteria of an egg donor

The requirement to become an egg donor may vary from one fertility clinic to the other. But the universal standard is a donor must maintain a healthy lifestyle ( no smoking, no alcohol intake, no tatoos), have a clean medical record ( must not be diabetic, not hypertensive, and clean of all sexually transmitted infections especially HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B) and a willingness / consent to remain committed to the process.

Below is a checklist of requirements of an egg donor. You must meet all the criteria

  1. Between the age 21-28 years. Some facilities take between 19-25 years
  2. Have regular monthly periods
  3. Physically and emotionally healthy
  4. No reproductive disorders or abnormalities.
  5. Must not be obese. Body Mass Index (BMI) between 21-28kg/m2
  6. Non-smoker, non-drug abuser.
  7. No tattoos.
  8. You must be willing and ready to undergo psychological evaluation.
  9. Not on any contraceptive eg depo-provera.
  10. You must be willing to take injectable drugs.
  11. The process takes a minimum of about 6 months. You must be willing to commit to it.
  12. Show enthusiasm in helping others build a family.
  13. You must give approval for the process. This is very important.

Ok now, you met the above requirements and you were selected. The next question is how is it done?

How is it done?

There are 4 steps in the egg donation process. The are:

  1. counselling
  2. Matching and screening
  3. Medication cycle
  4. Egg retrieval

1. Counselling/education

Once selected, you will be interviewed and provided with more information relating to egg donation. During this period you will be given ample opportunities to ask questions and discuss any issues that bothers your mind. It is the time to seek clarity.

You will also undergo psychosocial evaluation before matching.

2. Matching and Screening

Matching here means waiting to be picked by an intending couple or finding you suitable for an intending parent. Most times in Nigeria, egg donors do not meet with the recipients. It is just a social/business contract between the fertility clinics and the egg donors.

In Nigeria, as an egg donor, you will be asked to commit to a medication and retrieval schedule.

Then, donors will now undergo a screening process, which takes about 6-8weeks.

During the screening process, you will meet with a doctor who will describe the procedures involved and also carry out a series of blood tests on you. Here your hormone level will be analysed, and you will be screened for STIs and drugs. Passing the screening process means you must have been maintaining a clean medical record and free from prior and current drug use.

3. Medication cycle

Now that you have passed the the screening, the medication cycle can now begin. This cycle is usually time to coincide with your next menstrual cycle. At about the 21st day after your last menstrual period, the doctor will begin series on injections under the skin of drugs to help stimulate your eggs to mature in the ovaries. You will now be monitored to know the response of your body to the fertility medications.

These injectable medications will be continued until the eggs are ready to be retrieved.

4. Egg retrieval

The final process of egg donation. It is a minor surgical procedure. Without anasthesia, it is a painful process, hence intravenous anasthesia is given for a retrieval procedure.

It involves passing a vaginal ultrasound probe to guide a small needle through the vaginal wall to reach the ovaries and retrieve the eggs.

The procedure lasts about 20-30 minutes or more depending on the skill of the doctor. You will thereafter be required to rest, abstain from sexual activity and strenuous physical activity for some time

Medications an egg donor will take

In order to complete a successful retrieval, an egg donor will be required to take the below listed medications.Be rest assured that these drugs are relatively safe.

  1. Lupron– used to control your hormone levels and prevent release of the eggs. Lupron is harmless to humans.
  2. Follicle Stimulating Hormone ( FSH or gonadotropins)- Other names are Bravelle, Follistim, Memopur, Gonal F .e.t.c. FSH is the same hormone that helps your mature during your menstrual cycle. It is used to develop more eggs than the normal.

Some the side effects of FSH include, headache, mood swings, bloating, weight gain and condition known as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) in 1-2% of women. Here, the body overracts to FSH causing enlarged ovaries. It could be very painful and distressing.

3. Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)- Other names include: ovidrel, profasi, pregnyl. A pregnancy hormone produced by the placenta. Very important. Used to mature the eggs before retrieval. Apart from the OHSS caused by FSH, both hCG and FSH has similar side effects.

What are the risks involved in egg donation?

For egg donation in Nigeria, this is the most frequently asked question. Part of the reasons egg donation has still not fully gained acceptance by Nigerians is the fear of the dangers and/or risk factors. There is this erroneous belief out there that it causes infertility later in life. This is NOT TRUE.

Egg donation has been proven by Science to be a safe process with no long term side effects. However, there are some short time side effects that accompany the whole process. Check below…

  1. Some medications you are given during the process like gonadotropin and hCG can cause weight gain, mood swings, bloating and in some cases ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.
  2. Are you scared of needles? Withdrawing blood for tests and administering injectible medications could be painful and a bit uncomfortable,
  3. The egg retrieval process is painful. Dont worry, you will be given anaesthesia during the process and painkillers thereafter. Egg retrieval could cause mild bleeding.
  4. After the egg retrieval, you may get pregnant if you indulge in sexual intercourse. Yes, the medications you took increases fertility.
  5. It is time consuming.

How much egg donors make in Nigeria

Though there are some advocacy groups that wants egg donation to be free, others believe egg donors should be compensated for the time, effort, stress and inconvenience required of the donation process.

Also called ovum trading, an egg donor get between N100,000- N150,000 to have her eggs harvested.

Egg donation in Nigeria is now a multi- million naira business.

Is it legal? egg donation laws in Nigeria

The National Health Act of 2014 does not criminalize egg donation, and it is silent on the trade. This means it is legal. You will not be breaking any law if you decide to sell your eggs. It is your right as far as you meet the selection requirements. Moreover, you helping couples build a family.

In Canada, New Zealand and France, there is a ban on monetary compensation for egg trading. The United Kingdom prohibits payment for donors but they may receive a fixed amount of money to cover for any financial loss they may incur in connection with the donation.

In the United States, a country that basks in the glory of capitalism, the sale of human eggs is not an offence. The prices/cost for harvested human eggs vary, but they range from $3,500 to $5,000.

where can i donate my eggs in Nigeria?

Section 51 of the National Health Act states that ” removal of tissues from living persons must be done only in a hospital authorised for that purpose and on the written authorithy of the medical practitioner in charge of the clinical services in that hospital or any other medical practitioner authorized by him or her.”

This part of the law simply means that the whole process of egg donation must be supervised by a medical doctor (specialist) and be carried out in an authorized fertility clinics. There shall be no shortcuts, don’t fall for scammers.

There are many fertility/IVF clinics in Lagos, Abuja, Benin, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Warri, and Ibadan where you can go for egg donation in Nigeria.

Religious and ethical issues

The biggest religious and ethical issues with egg and sperm donation, as with the donation of other human tissues, borders around the issues of compensation, human dignity, free and informed consent, and adequate care after the donation for both the donor and the recipient.

Responsive egg donation process fully provides for these concerns to the extent that ethicists, not only recommend but fully endorse the practice.

Note that the religious acceptance of egg donation in Nigeria is personal and faith based. Though is is accepted by both islam and christainity.

I hope this article is helpful? Help create awareness on egg donation in Nigeria today

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