This is by FWP at the Financial WellnessProject. Through stories, lessons, and progress reports, she shares with readers her attempts at reducing and managing her debts, learning how to save and invest, building income, living frugally, and acquiring financial stability and independence. She blogs from Berkeley, CA.
According to an ABC News post earlier this year, egg donation is a big business:
Egg donation is a $38 million a year industry. Prospective donors advertise themselves online, listing everything from photos to IQ scores. The demand is staggering. It’s estimated more than 6,000 babies are born in this country every year from donated eggs.
What is this resource?
According to the American Pregnancy Association,
Egg donation, also referred to as oocyte donation, makes pregnancy possible for women who might not otherwise be able to get pregnant using their own eggs. Approximately 3,000 babies are born each year to women using donor eggs.
Therefore, I had been considering becoming a donor so that another childless woman/couple might be able to use my egg, and I would receive monetary compensation.
How much does it pay?
From the research at the time (2-3 years ago), it appeared I could make as much as $6000 from the programs that i had looked into. I don’t know about that ‘$50,000′ compensation noted above — perhaps for those with superstar genes.
In a summer article of Egg donation: Is it worth it?,
Although compensation for donation can reach up to $50,000 for a few eggs, a survey published in May 2007 in the journal of Fertility and Sterility found the national level of average compensation for egg donors was $5,000.
I knew that the $6000 would help me greatly. I was deeply in credit card debt at the time, using 3-5 cards concurrently. I was miserable, stressed, and distracted by my debt. I did not know how to get a handle on paying it off as soon as possible. Perhaps egg donation was particularly appealing because I wanted a relatively ‘quick fix’. I was relatively desperate to find a solution.
Concerns about bonding with egg
The financial compensation was immensely appealing. I initially believed that this would be relatively straightforward for me emotionally. Personally, for as long as I can remember, I have not had any interest in having children of my own. Having raised 2 of my brothers since I was 10 years old, I have since felt that I had ‘done my duty’, or something to that effect. Babysitting frequently while my mother went to work in the afternoons, I felt that my time after school were taken away from me in childhood. I felt that I had to be adult-like prematurely. So perhaps now I get to be a kid again in my young adulthood.
Additionally, my relations with the parental units were… suboptimal, to say the least. As a result, my interest in having a family is almost non-existent, beyond sharing my life with the SO. (And hopefully a few puppies in the near future!)
I mention this because I then knew without a doubt that I would not have any qualms to give up an egg or more. I was not concerned, as others may become. i was in it for the money, and that was the cold hard truth.
How does it work?
I did some research online, reading the various pieces of literature available for the sites that I visited to become familiar with the action steps and procedures involved. Where would this happen? Who would preside over the extraction? What will this cost me in terms of travel? How do I prepare my body for this task? I filled out two applications online, and anxiously awaited responses.
In a few days to a week, I received both responses by e-mail. Both wanted to see if I was still interested, and if so, to let them know. We could then move forward.
For some reason around that time, I began to have reservations about the whole process. It seemed there were some potential problems for me as a donor candidate. To my understanding, one would need to go through a lot of discomfort and pain while taking the medications the medical staff would give you to prep your body for making an egg. I have had a lot of physical ailments growing up, so I was discouraged to realize that most likely my body would suffer greatly, as well as my mind. I did not know if that was good for my well-being, no matter how transitory.
Secondly, I suffer from depression and some level of mood disorders. I wondered how the ordeal might affect my mental health. If I recall correctly, the process requires that one should not be on anti-depressants during that time. I have had serious problems mentally, emotionally, when I was not on my medications. As a result, I had to admit that I was extremely doubtful as to whether I should take that risk again. I decided that I could not. The Department of Health for NY State site mentions that one may not qualify as a donor due to mental illnesses being inheritable:
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine suggests that a woman should not donate eggs if she:
• Has a serious psychological disorder.
• Abuses drugs or alcohol or has several relatives who do.
• Currently uses psychoactive medications.
• Has significant stress in her life.
• Is in an unstable marriage or relationship.
• Has been physically or sexually abused and not received professional treatment.
• Is not mentally capable of understanding or participating in the process.
If any of your close, blood relatives have serious psychiatric disorders, the program needs to know, because some psychiatric disorders may be inherited.
The SO and I discussed this as well. He too was concerned about my future mental and physical well-being while on the program. Was it really worth the money to go through what might be a hellish experience for someone like me? We decided that it was not worth it, that I could find the money by other means. Additionally, I knew that the prospect made him personally uncomfortable and doubtful, although he too shares my perspective on a lack of immediate interest in having children of our own.
Eventually, I will no longer qualify due to their age range requirements (21 through 35), such that I will no longer be able to or have a qualifying reason to consider the procedure again. However, I can not help but to occasionally wonder if I am missing an opportunity to financially help myself (while helping a childless couple), although this is a fleeting thought.
What about my debts?
I’ll find the money through other means. currently, I hold a full-time steady job. At the moment, I am entertaining the possibility of freelancing in the near future. I am also starting up my online crochet business. I have also been keeping an eye out for paid blogging opportunities. I can only suspect most women are private about having donated an egg or two or not. I personally do not know if my friends have done such a thing, or if I know a female acquaintance who has gone through the process. I realize that it may be controversial for some to even consider the possibility.
Although this piece from NPR is several years old, the message is still more or less applicable:
Human egg donation has become a regular business, thanks to decades of developments in reproductive technology. But some say donation is a misnomer, since women are paid for giving up their eggs — sometimes as much as $50,000, if desirable traits are in evidence. But some are calling for egg donation to be regulated — and they question the effects of financial incentives.
Perhaps in this post, I must refrain from asking the questions I do when ending a post such as, ‘how about you?’, ‘have you done this, or seriously considered going down this path?’. This decision and topic could be too personal. However, if you’d like, please feel free to offer your comments and insights.