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The third-party reproduction is a very significant and important aspect of assisted reproductive technology that has made it possible for women who have passed the age of child bearing medically and couples diagnosed with the most severe form male factor infertility characterized with oligoasthenoteratozoospermia (i.e. low sperm count, poor sperm motility and poor sperm morphology combined) and azoospermia to still be able to achieve pregnancy and give birth to healthy babies.

The third-party reproduction program includes sperm donation, oocyte donation, embryo donation and surrogacy.

  1. Sperm Donation

In severe cases of male factor infertility like azoospermia or severe oligoasthenoteratozoospermia, sperm donation may be required to increase the chance of achieving pregnancy. The decision to use a sperm donor is not one taken lightly.

At JAFC, it is often the last resort after all other options have failed. For some, it is indeed the only option to ensure pregnancy is achieved.

Once the decision for the use of a sperm donor is taken after due counselling and the necessary informed consent signed, the process of recruiting a sperm donor begins.

To qualify as a sperm donor, the individual must be evaluated and tested. The tests done include Blood Group, Genotype, serology for HIV, HbSAg, HCV, VDRL to exclude infectious disease, and of course a seminal fluid analysis to ensure fitness to serve as a sperm donor

It is important to ensure the blood group and genotype of the sperm donor matches that of the partner. At JAFC, apart from the blood group and genotype matching, we also try as much as possible to ensure that phenotypically (physically), there is a match between the couples and the donor.

Once the tests result is good, the sperm donor goes ahead to donate. It is however important to freeze the sperm cells, and repeat the HIV test after 6 months to prevent seroconversion, before using the sperm. Once all is cleared, the donor sperm can then be used in conventional IVF or ICSI procedure to inseminate the spouse egg.

Indications for sperm donor program

  • Extreme cases of severe oligoasthenoteratozoospermia (i.e. low sperm count, poor sperm motility and poor sperm morphology combined)
  • Extreme case of azoospermia
  1. Oocyte Donation

Oocyte or egg donation is more common than sperm donation, and has formed a very significant aspect of our ART program. We are currently seeing an increased demand for this service principally because older women are trying to achieve pregnancy.

The other reasons why egg donation may be needed include women with premature ovarian failure, where the eggs in the ovaries are exhausted before the age of 40 or the ovaries have stopped functioning because of chemotherapy, radiotherapy or after surgery.

At JAFC, the process of selecting an egg donor is a painstaking process. Usually, younger females with ages between 20 – 28 with good family, social, and medical histories, as well as good educational background are used.

The potential egg donors are tested. Their blood group and genotype are determined. Serological test like HIV, HbSAg, HCV and VDRL are done to screen for infectious diseases. Thereafter, some medical and physical evaluations are done to determine suitability.

Once, a donor has passed these tests, she then gives an informed consent to go ahead with the donation program, after a detailed counselling session.

 At JAFC, we operate a completely anonymous egg donation program. i.e. the recipient does not know the donor, and the donor is not aware of whom she is donating to. At the end of the process, the donor is paid a compensation fee for her time.

Once the matching and the investigations are completed we will begin the process of syncing the patients cycle with the donor’s stimulation to prepare for egg retrieval and the subsequent embryo transfer. 

Indication for egg donor program

  • Females over age 40
  • Women with low ovarian reserve or premature ovarian failure (where the eggs in the ovaries are exhausted before the age of 40)
  • Women that have undergone chemotherapy, radiotherapy or abdomino-pelvic surgery that may have stopped ovarian function
  • Carriers of certain genetic disorders
  1. Embryo Donation

There are some couples who will benefit from an embryo donation program. In this case, the egg and the sperm cells are donated. This is sometimes called embryo adoption. It is however the way forward for couples who can’t provide gametes to generate embryos.

Indications for embryo donation

  • Advanced maternal age with severe male factor infertility (oligoasthenoteratozoospermia or azoospermia) Like sperm or egg donation, the participants undergo testing to determine suitability, before going ahead to donate.

At JAFC, the decision for an embryo donation program requires a lot of counselling to properly understand the implications of embarking on such a program.

  1. Surrogacy

In this program, someone else (gestational carrier) helps a couple to carry a pregnancy and delivers the baby(s). In this situation, the woman for some reasons can’t carry a pregnancy, either because the uterus is absent or severely damaged; or due to medical conditions that makes it impossible or dangerous for the woman to successfully carry a pregnancy. 

In some women, they have ovaries but no uterus, or the uterus is damaged. In such women, the ovaries are stimulated with medications, and the eggs collected. The eggs are fertilized with the partner’s sperm cells to produce embryos, which are then transferred into a surrogate- a gestational carrier to carry the pregnancy.

The recruiting and selection of someone to serve as a surrogate follows due process. The surrogate must undergo screening to ensure the individual is fit to take on that role psychologically, physically and mentally. Medical evaluation and blood testing are some of the screening exercise engaged in to ensure fitness of the surrogate.

The surrogate is counselled on the role she is about to take on and the implications, particularly the fact that she has no rights to the child born by her. The child belongs to the biological parents; she is a carrier who helped to bring the dream of another couple to pass.

At JAFC, our surrogacy program is completely anonymous. The surrogate mother has no information on the biological parents, and the parents never meet or know who the surrogate is. We also try to ensure that the surrogate mother does not develop any form of bonding with the child.

The surrogate mother is thereafter compensated for her time and the sacrifice she made to ensure another family has joy and happiness.  

  1. Gestational Surrogacy

Gestational surrogacy (also known as host or full surrogacy) was first achieved in April 1986. It takes place when an embryo created by in vitro fertilization (IVF) technology is implanted in a surrogate, sometimes called a gestational carrier. Gestational surrogacy may take a number of forms, but in each form the resulting child is genetically unrelated to the surrogate:

  • the embryo is created using the intended father's sperm and the intended mother's eggs. The resulting child is genetically related to both intended parents.
  • the embryo is created using the intended father's sperm and a donor egg where the donor is not the surrogate. The resulting child is genetically related to the intended father.
  • the embryo is created using the intended mother's egg and donor sperm. The resulting child is genetically related to the intended mother.
  • a donor embryo is implanted in a surrogate. Such an embryo may be available when others undergoing IVF have embryos left over, which they donate to others. The resulting child is genetically unrelated to the intended parent(s).

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