Passage to India: Inquiry as SA women flock to donate their eggs
Hundreds of young South African women are being recruited to donate their eggs for payment in India, fuelling a push for an official investigation.
The Southern African Society of Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy (SASREG) confirmed it has reported complaints about this practice to the national health department for further investigation.
SASREG’s Dr Sulaiman Heylen told M24i that complaints about three international agencies, which have recruited women in SA, had been laid with the department.
Heylen, SASREG chairman Dr Paul le Roux and Prof Theunis Frans Kruger, head of gynaecology at Stellenbosch University’s medical campus, have all expressed their concern about the travelling egg donors.
Heylen said they were concerned about the aftercare treatment for South African donors who travel to India. Various experts feel that that the donations are regarded as a paid vacation for the young women without them realising the risks attached to it.
In South Africa, donors may not be paid although they can be compensated up to R7 000 for “inconvenience”.
SurrogacyIndia, which has been identified as a fertility clinic in Mumbai that recruits many South African donors, states on its web site that, while it did not follow the western industry payment standard of $7000 (about R60 000), it guaranteed a “safe and transparent financial transaction”.
In addition to payment, the donor’s travelling and accommodation costs and other expenses are also met.
SurragacyIndia was approached for comment but its founder and director, Dr Sudhir Ajja, replied: “I will appreciate it if you could furnish me with more information about yourself and help me to understand how you managed to get hold of our ‘email identification’.”
Ajja declined to answer any further questions put by Media24 Investigations about the South African donors.
Heylen said that SASREG had not only condemned this practice and reported to the authorities but that it had:
* Also laid charges against three recruiting agencies (whose names are known to Media24 Investigations) with the health department;
* Confronted the three agencies on numerous occasions;
* Instructed all SASREG members not to participate in the recruitment;
* Instructed individual doctors to stop any recruitment; and
* Imposed guidelines to prevent it.
The three agencies, which SASREG identified as those recruiting women for India, operate out of the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
Doron Mamet of the Tammuz-International Surrogacy recruitment group said that while he did not operate an agency in SA, “we have donors who travel from SA to India.”
“It is difficult to say how much they are being paid because that will be determined by the time they spend away from work, food and such things – why I think it is the same as in SA.
“Donors from all across the world are being flown to India by various agencies. I estimate that hundreds of donors from SA fly annually to India,” he said.
The SA Police Service could not confirm that a case had been opened for investigation although spokesman Colonel Vish Naidoo did say that “a woman has laid a charge with the police about an overseas egg donation.”
He was unable to immediately provide further details.
The Department of Health did not respond to requests for comment on the investigation.