What is the value of a human egg? How much would you pay to your egg donor?
Thousands of babies are being born each year as a result of egg donation. In 2013, over 9,500 babies were born thanks to donated eggs.
Fifteen years ago (something like middle age of reproductive medicine), egg donation was more a method then a business.
At that time, ASRM (American Society for Reproductive Medicine), the primary organization for physicians and researchers in reproductive medicine) suggested $5,000 per donation cycle as a generally accepted limit, and that payments over $10,000 were “beyond what is appropriate”. While not all IVF-clinics follow the ASRM guidelines, over 90 percent of U.S. clinics do stick to them, according to the Wall Street Journal.
But how did the reality of egg donation change over the last few years?
Are there more or less women ready to donate their eggs?
Did egg donation become more readily available for those in need of it?
Which new aspects of egg donation should be considered?
What is appropriate egg donor compensation?
With thousands of egg donations each year, fresh views and opinions are arising.
Some people ask whether it’s OK that this apparently a high price is put on an egg, while sperm (with millions of spermatozoa per milliliter) can be bought for $100 or less.
On the other end of the spectrum are women who say: These are our body parts which we are giving to you, so why shouldn’t we negotiate the highest price possible for them?
And there is good old Europe, where egg donors get a set fee of about Eur 500-1000, depending on a country. With this low price, law-makers make sure that women will undergo weeks of hormonal stimulation followed by a harvest day in the hospital, all out of solely altruistic motivations.
If you think that’s unfair, let me add that there are many countries in which egg donation is simply prohibited, even in modern ones like Germany, which apparently doesn’t see any contradiction in its being technically advanced and having a leading-edge infrastructure and cars, but disallowing egg donation (as well as surrogacy and even most PGSs).
So what’s my take on this?
Well, I wonder, what’s yours? How much would you pay for an egg, which will someday become your son or daughter?
I don’t know about you, but I would be ready to pay a world for it (and then apologize to the donor that I couldn’t give more).
I think it’s good there are ethical committees growing all around the world to address this issue and set limits there where neither nature nor nurture have any suggestions or past experiences to offer us as guidance.
What do you think is the most important trait couples pay for when buying eggs? What would you look for, and what do you think doctors should screen for in the process of egg matching?
The same skin and eye color as yours and your partner’s? I definitely think there are more important traits to look for.
What makes a good egg donor?
For me as a biologist and a mother of two (who came naturally, after years of fighting infertility and my diminished ovarian reserve, probably as a result of me improving the egg quality to the extent that natural conception was made possible as described in my book), I definitely think that egg health is the ultimate trait you should look for in a donated egg.
You can improve the odds of getting a healthy egg by asking: Is your donor young and beautiful?
That is of course neither an ethically nor politically correct question, yet it is an effective way in which nature has communicated to us for millions of years.
Young women do have better quality eggs. Facial and body symmetry are a reliable sign of generally good health.
If you still think it is unethical to ask such questions, please consider that egg donation means the egg will be fertilized via IVF or even ICSI in order to build an embryo with your partner’s sperm. ICSI especially is a harsh procedure which destroys parts of the egg’s fine texture.
To better understand what I’m saying, please have a look at this short video and you will immediately know why in the process of egg matching, getting a healthy, robust egg is the only thing that really matters.
Egg donation is marketed to look easy and smooth, but in reality it’s a tough process with many components we truly know nothing about. For that reason, another question worth asking would be, can you find out anything about the personal and genetic information of your egg donor?
What kind of life was your donor having?
Was she exposed to any toxins, or extreme life circumstances?
Are you able to find out anything about her family’s health history?
In the process of egg donation it’s easy to become entirely immersed in logistical and emotional issues, forgetting to ask the most important questions.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Focus on the health of your egg donor; that’s what really matters and determines the future health of your child, way before you get pregnant with that egg.
Egg donation is marketed to look easy and smooth, but in reality it’s a tough process with many components we truly know nothing about.
If you’d like to hear what I think about your fertility journey or need a fertility-related advice, please send me an e-mail as described here and we’ll set up a Skype-consultation!