Egg Donation and Overcompensation

Egg Donation and Overcompensation Imagine you’re a twenty-two year old female, fresh out of college - Egg Donation and Overcompensation introduction. You have a big shiny college diploma from a highly prestigious University hanging in your bedroom, yet are still interning for no pay and looking for your first “big-girl” job. Your apartment, electricity, and cable bills didn’t end when you stopped receiving financial aid, and now you are required to start paying off those loans. You are looking for quick money and spot an ad online looking for a young, intelligent, attractive woman to be an egg donor and receive $15,000 compensation.

Would you go for it? Sounds like quick, easy money doesn’t it? Well it’s not; Egg donation is not a one step, in and out procedure. It is a serious medical procedure that involves two phases: Ovarian hyperstimulation, and Egg retrieval. Ovarian hyperstimulation consists of numerous hormonal drugs (shots) in order to make the ovaries mass produce mature eggs, and then these eggs are extracted in the egg retrieval phase through transvaginal ultrasound aspiration, a surgical procedure.

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These tests, screenings and medical appointments can take up about 60 hours of the Egg donor’s time. (“The Medical”) These advertisements for egg donors can be found anywhere from online forums, newspapers and even agencies that specialize in egg donations such as “The Egg Donor Center” who state that their standard compensation is $5,000 and goes as high as $8,000 depending on where you live, and any unique skills, degrees, characteristics or traits you may acquire.

Places like this, for donors who would have to travel, also offer round-trip airline tickets (for two), hotel accommodations (for two), grounds transportation, and daily compensation for food, lost wages, etc… (“Egg Donor Compensation”) It seems that the whole Egg Donation process has turned from a way for women who cannot produce children on their own to start a family, to an extremely money driven system that shells out more cash for superficial specifications. In 2007 The Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) developed guidelines for the financial compensation of oocyte donors.

The third specification stated: “Total payments to donors in excess of $5,000 require justification and sums above $10,000 are not appropriate. ” (“Financial”) A survey of US fertility clinics taken in 2007’s results show that the average compensation for egg donors is within the $5,000 limit, the average payment to egg donors was $4,217 (Hamm). It is respectable that the Ethics Committee of the ASRM realized that egg donors were being greatly over compensated and that they took the initiative to develop a list of guidelines, but is it enough?

These guidelines are requirements, but not laws so it is difficult to completely enforce them. When done for the right reasons Egg donation is a positive thing. It is a great way to aid families who are infertile, and is surely a very rewarding process if you are mature enough to realize that what you are doing is to help that other family, and are being compensated for your time and the possibility of any complications rather than trying to make quick, easy money.

In an article in the Medill Reports-Chicago author, Lauren Padia states: “While sperm donation can be a quick experience, often lasting less than an hour, egg donation can involve a three-to-six-month process of preparation, with time consuming doctor’s appointment, injections and lots of emotional investment. ” In this article, Padia exemplifies a young woman who started the donation process after coming across a craigslist advertisement while looking for a job, this young woman stated that she was drawn to the money at first but quickly, the rewards of helping the infertile couple outweighed the importance of the compensation. Padia) Although in some cases women weigh the risks and overlook the large sums of money they could receive, the money still seems to be the motivation. As I was researching information for this essay I came across a very blunt, and borderline ignorant ad. This ad requested a genius, Asian egg donor and offered $35,000 compensation. The ad went on to state yet more specific standards; “An example of our ideal egg donor: 21 year old Chinese MIT student with A grade point average, near-perfect SAT score, several awards in high school and university”(eggdonorneeded. om). Not only does this offer for egg donation compensation significantly exceed the guidelines set by the ASRM, but it is a perfect setup to get a young woman who would not normally risk her health and well-being to donate her eggs, to do so. With compensations reaching such high levels it is easy for women to shrug off the idea of health risks, but in reality there are many health concerns to think about before committing to becoming an egg donor.

While going through the egg donation process a woman is to take daily injections of medications such as gonadotropin, this medication shuts down their ovaries, and the side effects of this medicine and medications like this have been known to cause “mood swings, headaches, abdominal bleeding, weight gain, nausea, and stinging pain at the injection site for some women. ” (Waters). The most significant risk of the oocyte donor process is the possibility of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.

Studies show the risk is as high as 10 percent, and is the most common side effect. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome can cause symptoms ranging from as mild as bloating to as severe as kidney failure and death (Waters). The Stanford University Egg Donor Information Project declared that “major injury to the bladder, bowel, uterus, blood vessels or other pelvic structures occurs in approximately 1 in 500 to 1000 surgeries… Surgical risks include acute ovarian trauma, infection, infertility, vaginal bleeding, and lacerations.

Additionally, anesthetic complications may occur, although they are rare in healthy women. In one study of 674 women who underwent egg retrieval, 1. 5 percent required hospitalization due to complications occurring during or after surgery. ” (qtd. In Waters) We see that there are some serious short term risks when choosing to take part in the egg donation process but what is even more frightening is that the long term risks still have not been established. It is nearly impossible to assess the long term risks of egg donation since it has only been around for a few decades. Questions have been raised about whether extraction may jeopardize the donor’s fertility, and critics worry about the potential psychological harm to a donor of eggs as a young woman who later finds that she is unable to have children. ” (Rabin) Egg donation is a serious commitment and the incentives people are offering young women could easily be enough to make them overlook, or even distract them from looking into the risks at all. The study previously stated that showed average payment to egg donors in 2007 was $4,217 and was within the $5,000 mark the ASRM had hoped for was not entirely conclusive.

This study was sent to 394 clinics in the United States, yet only 191 of them reciprocated. There is no telling how much people are really paying for oocyte donations. Jim Hopkins of USA TODAY explained that when putting in a search for “egg donor” on Google you can find dozens of advertisements offering thousands of dollars and reaching out to young, intelligent college students, some are even placed in the student newspapers. Craigslist also circulates near 150 egg donation ads on a daily basis. Hopkins) It is offensive to see a procedure that once seemed so genuine and important to aid couples who are infertile in building their families turn into such a currency based industry. It is difficult for young women to listen to the health and well-being risks, and truly give their informed consent when all they are seeing is multiple dollar signs flashing before their eyes. It should be mandatory that all Egg Donations go through clinics that strictly follow the ASRM’s Ethical guidelines for egg donation compensation.

Not only should there be something done about the overcompensation that is luring young women into doing something that they wouldn’t normally do, but there should be much more information given up front on these websites promoting egg donation. Young women who need to pay off credit cards or student loans are only seeing cash, rather than the possibility of not being able to have children in the future, risking their health and well-being, or even death.

If the guidelines of the ASRM were more strictly enforced we wouldn’t be halting, or abolishing the egg donation process, but we would have women who are much more psychologically ready for this process and the commitment it entails enlisting in it. Works Cited Eggdonorneeded. com. Web. 3 Oct. 2011 “Egg Donor Compensation”. Theeggdonor. com. The Egg Donor Center, n. d. Web. 30 Oct. 2011 ”Financial Compensation of Oocyte Donors”. ASRM Ethics Committee Report. Fertility and Sterility Vol. 88, No. 2. P. 305 Aug. 2007. Web. 3 Oct. 2011. Hamm, Danielle. “Payment to egg donors”. IVF News. 5 June 2007. Web. 3 Oct. 011 Hopkins, Jim. “Egg-Donor Business Booms on Campuses”. USA TODAY. 16 Mar. 2006. Web. 4 Oct. 2011 Padia, Lauren. “Egg donors commit six months to helping infertile couples”. Medill Reports- Chicago, Northwestern University. 10 June 2010. Web. 3 Oct. 2011. Rabin, Roni Caryn. “As demand for donor eggs soars, high prices stir ethical concerns”. New York Times. 15 May 2007. Web. 3 Oct. 2011 “ The Medical Procedure of Egg Donation”. Egg Donor Information Project. Stanford university. N. d. Web. 3 Oct. 2011 Waters, Abbie. “Egg Donation Risks- 7 dangers of donating eggs”. Fertility Nation. n. d. Web. 3 Oct 2011

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