Mercy Kyallo, the sister to former TV queen Betty Kyallo, has touched off heated debate after revealing some personal details about her life which, whìle not unusual, appear to have shocked a section of Kenyans. Speaking on NTV’s The Trend programme on Friday, Mercy said she had donated eggs (ova)  and nearly diéd while at it, when she developed a complication.

“I was donating eggs. A lot of women donate eggs sometimes for passion or money, for whatever reason,” said Mercy, the CEO of Yallo Leather. “I almost diéd. I got a complication called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which had me battling for my life for almost a month in hospital.”

Women donate eggs in a process known medically as In vitro fertilization, IVF in shorthand, which is used to treat many causes of infertility. The process involves monitoring and stimulating a woman’s ovulatory process, removing an ovum or ova from her ovaries and letting sperm fertilise them in a culture medium in a laboratory.

The fertilised egg, called an embryo, is then returned to a woman’s womb to grow and develop. It can be carried out using a woman’s eggs and her partner’s sperm, or eggs and sperm from donors. Egg donation is the equivalent of sperm donation in men.

Fertility drùgs are prescribed to help stimulate egg development. Even if a woman has no problem with ovulation, the drùgs help produce more than a single egg which improves the pregnancy rate. Generally, 10 to 20 eggs are retrieved from the ovaries using a small needle. Healthy, mature eggs are mixed with a special medium and sperm in a specialized lab to fertilize the eggs.

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which Mercy had, occurs in women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) or ovulation induction with injectable medications. While Mercy Kyallo did not offer much detail about her condition, it is easy to understand the cause.  “I forgot how to walk. It was crazy. But my family was there for me,” she said.

She said she shared the egg donation idea with her sister, Betty,  who encouraged her to go for it given the good money involved.  “I told Betty about it; that I am thinking of doing this donation,” she said. “There families that really suffer with kids, and she was like ‘go, my friend has bought a whole stereo system and living her life through that thing’.”

The average cost for one in-vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle is more than $12,000 (about Ksh1.2 million) in developed countries. One  basic IVF can be cost between $10,000 (Ksh1 million) and $15,000 (Ksh1.5 million), but it is not clear how much the egg donor is paid.

Mercy did not reveal how much she earned from it and, given the complications, if she can do it again or advise other women to do it. There are not set prices of eggs donation in Kenya, boiling down to negotiation between the parties involved.

Sperm donors, on the other hand, are paid between Ksh10,000 and Ksh12,000, while the facilities sell to recipients at Ksh40,000 for intrauterine insemination and Ksh400,000 for IVF (in vitro fertilization)

Mercy and Betty – who  opening up aspects of their lives in their new reality series Kyallo Kulture, along side their sister Gloria – acknowledged that they were ignorant then about the subject and did not extensively explore the side effects and implications.  “I didn’t have a lot of information about,” said Betty Kyallo. “Hope our fans will live with this story and understand it.”

By Business today

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