It’s not at all difficult to empathize with childless couples longing for a baby. Fortunately, nowadays there are more options for fertility treatment available than ever before, and it’s possible for couples unable to conceive naturally to benefit from drug treatments that regulate the hormones, a laparoscopy to unblock the fallopian tubes or in vitro fertilization (IVF) which allows eggs from the woman or a donor to be fertilized with sperm from the man or a donor, under laboratory conditions.
Supply and demand
At one time, adoption was the only way a couple unable to have children could hope to raise a family; however the development of new techniques has prompted an increase in demand for donations of both sperm and eggs. Ads for egg donors are placed by infertility programs, keen to help their patients, and by egg brokers aiming to recruit eligible women but not, themselves, suppliers of medical treatment.
Sometimes, concern is expressed about the ethics of selling eggs, based on whether or not it is morally justifiable to sell what may one day be transformed into a human being. Similar arguments have been made about surrogacy, where a woman carries a child to full term on behalf of a couple and they then become the legal parents of the baby. In both cases a contract is in place to protect all parties, and there are strict guidelines about the medical screening procedures and the quality of care to be provided for donors and surrogate mothers.
The question of financial reward
Using a reputable infertility program for egg donation is one way to ensure that the eggs are going to be used to help others, and to feel comfortable with the level of financial reward that is being offered. After all, the costs of a procedure such as IVF have to factor in fees for medical staff, operating costs for the laboratories and hospitals involved plus the screening process for donors, so the donor’s fee is just one part of the total purchase price.
There is also the issue of being properly compensated as deciding to donate eggs is not without its inconveniences. Typically, donors have to submit to physical examinations, including gynecological investigations, urine and blood tests; share a comprehensive family history; and undergo a psychological evaluation. A donor who has experienced anxiety and depression will most likely be ruled out instantly.
The egg donation process is time-consuming and may require the donor to take some time off from work.
The feel-good factor
The final decision about whether or not to donate does not, in fact, rest with the potential donor, as there are a number of circumstances that can rule out women who are willing to give eggs, but who do not pass the necessary psychological and physical check-ups. Women above the age of 35 years will not usually qualify, as egg quality is known to decline after this point. For those who do qualify, and who have taken the decision to proceed with egg donation, there can be few feelings to beat the reward of knowing that their contribution means a childless couple will be given a new chance to conceive, and fresh hope that they will one day have a longed-for baby.