Nurturing motherhood

DARLING MOMS: Tertia Albertyn and MelanyBartok. 27/01/09. © Unknown.
DARLING MOMS: Tertia Albertyn and MelanyBartok. 27/01/09. © Unknown.

Tebogo Monama

Tebogo Monama

Tertia Albertyn has fought a devastating battle with infertility. After going through 10 in vitro fertilisations, she now has twins. To help other infertile women, she and her partner started Nurture.

Nurture is an egg donor and surrogacy programme created by Albertyn and Melany Bartok, who both experienced the heartbreak of infertility - Bartok as a donor and Albertyn as a patient.

Albertyn has written a book - So Close - about her experiences.

About starting the company, Albertyn, says: "I wanted to give something back. I have great empathy with others going through this heartache. I know too well what it is like to have an aching heart and empty arms. A few years into my infertility journey, my best friend Melany asked me what she could do to help.

"I said that what she could do to help the many women out there who are suffering like me is to become an egg donor. To donate her eggs to someone who couldn't produce eggs of her own.

So she did. In doing so, she has a personal insight into what it is like to be an egg donor, to go through this process.

"So this is a cause close to both our hearts," Albertyn says. "About a year ago, we were chatting about how many women are still suffering, and we said, 'Why don't we do something about it? Why don't we help other future parents achieve their dream?' And a few months later, Nurture was born."

The company's first babies - twins - are due next month.

Women who need donors are referred to Nurture by their doctors. Prospective donors can apply online to There is an initial application process that applicants have to undergo. The women have to be between the ages of 21 and 34 and have a body-mass index of between 19 and 28. Once the initial applications have been submitted anonymously, the women are screened. When the donor's application has been approved, she is interviewed face-to-face. Her profile is then placed on the website for women to choose.

Albertyn says: "There is no waiting list, it only takes as long as it takes for the couple to choose a donor that feels right to them. We have many donors on board, tall, short, white, black - so there should be enough choice."

When a recipient chooses a donor, she goes for a psychological evaluation to make sure that she understands exactly what she is getting herself into, that she is mentally sound and that there are no problems.

The donor also undergoes a full medical evaluation and an internal scan and blood tests for HIV, hepatitis and other diseases. If he is declared physically and medically fit, he is ready to donate.

Then the donor and recipient both go on the birth control pill for a month to sync their cycles. They then have a further two weeks of hormonal treatment.

This is usually done over a two-month period and thereafter they will be given a 14-day course of fertility medication.

During this time they will need to visit the clinic at least four times to track the progress of the developing eggs. On the day of the retrieval, the eggs are removed under sedation.

There is no waiting list for eggs. Nurture's donor success rate is between 65 and 70percent for each attempt.

Albertyn says: "This is incredibly high considering that in a 'normal' situation, each couple only has a 25percent chance a month of conceiving."

A woman who wants a donor is allowed to try it as many times as she can afford it, but donors are only allowed to donate a maximum of six times, or five live births.

"All medical expenses are paid for by the recipient couple. Donors are reimbursed for their travelling costs and their time off work. Reimbursement is set by the SA Society for Reproductive Surgeons and Specialists at around R5000.

"Donors are not allowed to be paid for their eggs, they are only allowed to be compensated for their time and travelling costs," Albertyn says.

She says though there is no medical insurance for donors, Nurture only deals with top clinics.

If you wish to be a donor or want more information, visit