Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How Much is that Egg Donor in the Window?

I ran across an ad posted in the medical school the other day.  An Illinois company was soliciting women to become egg donors.  The ad indicated that the women could make up to $60,000 for their eggs/effort.

The company website indicates that the actual amount varies (of course!) depending on a variety of factors, especially the number of times a woman donates.  (Well, that and other factors:  see below.)  The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has advised that women not receive more then $10,000 per donation, on the theory that that amount (a) was commensurate with the actual process involved but (b) not so much that it would have a coercive effect.

This company also indicated that "Our Egg Donors are compensated between $4,000 and $10,000. The exact level of compensation depends on lots of factors, like rare ethnicity, education, location, prior donations."

This seems a shame to me.  In practice, the amount of time and effort involved in being an egg donor is going to be roughly the same for all women.  Initial inquiries, evaluations, procedures:  all these things impose more or less the same 'costs' on women.  In general, too, the amount of risk faced by all these women is going to be the same too.  The risks faced by a woman with a G.E.D. are going to be the same for the woman who is in her second year of medical school.

Making allowances -- increased compensation -- for "rare ethnicity" really shows how the market is driving the level of compensation.   If you have a dime-a-dozen ethnicity, donors will get less even though the time, effort, and risks are the same for those with rare ethnicities. If we're really talking about compensation -- and not market scarcity -- then most women should be getting the same amount, with maybe some extra money thrown in for longer travel costs.  But, then again, we're not.  People will shop for egg donors the same way they shop for other things of value, being willing to pay more for what they want, so long as we can call it 'compensation.'


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