Every week, I read my local alternative newspaper. Invariably, the first thing I turn to is the last few pages to look at the classified section. Without fail, one ad always catches my eye. It reads "Female donors can make up to $20,000 for their eggs," and at the bottom is an 800 number. I’m sure many of us (including myself) have wondered what egg donation entails, if it is safe, and how much donors are really compensated. Well, here’s your crash course in egg donation.
Qualifying: Not every woman can donate eggs. Programs tend to prefer younger women and those that have already given birth or donated eggs successfully. Potential donors undergo a battery of tests to determine their eligibility. These include physical and gynecological exams as well as a family history and psychological exam.
Procedure: If you pass all these tests, you are given a series of fertility drugs to jump start your reproductive system. Instead of producing one egg at a time, your ovaries produce many. Removing the eggs requires surgery and an often painful recovery that will leave you bedridden for days.
Risks: The fertility medications may stop your normal cycle and lead to hot flashes, moodiness, and sleep problems. Another side effect of the fertility meds is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome which can cause further problems like blood clots or kidney failure.
Compensation: Egg donors can make as much as $5,000 a donation. However, some programs that pick donors on the basis of above average characteristics, like height or intelligence, pay considerably more.
If you are considering becoming a donor, it is your responsibility to seriously think about the ethical and emotional issues involved. While you will be bringing joy to another's family, you will have not legal claim to the child born of your donation even though you are genetically related. Be sure you are ready to accept this before you dial that number at the bottom of the ad.