As Demand for Donor Eggs Soars, High Prices Stir Ethical Concerns
By RONI CARYN RABIN
Published: May 15, 2007
Samantha Carolan was 23 and fresh out of graduate school when she decided to donate eggs to an infertile couple. Ms. Carolan concedes that she
would never have done it if not for the money, $7,000 that she used to pay off some
She has since had a second egg extraction, for which she was paid $8,000, and she is planning a third before taking a break.
“The first time, it’s frightening,” said Ms. Carolan, now 24, of Winfield Park, N.J. “It is surgery, and I don’t think I would have done it without
compensation. But I had very limited pain, and it was a great experience for me. I would have done it the second time for less money or even no
Though many egg donors derive great satisfaction from knowing that they helped someone start a family, the price of eggs has soared in recent years as
demand has increased, and the sizable payments raise controversy.
A survey published this month in the journal Fertility and Sterility, “What Is Happening to the Price of Eggs?” found that the national average
compensation for donors was $4,217. At least one center told the authors of the paper that it paid $15,000. Many centers did not respond.
Though laws prohibit the sale of transplant organs, sperm donors have always received small payments, and prospective parents in the United States
are allowed to compensate women for their far greater expenditure of time and energy. (Many countries, including Canada and Britain, do prohibit
payments to egg donors.)
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine considers compensation of $5,000 or more to “require justification” and sums exceeding $10,000
“beyond what is appropriate.”
Meanwhile, advertisements recruiting students from elite universities to donate promise tens of thousands of dollars, and donor agencies have sprung
up, appealing to would-be parents with online videos and photo galleries of donors. According to the