Women use fertility to fill financial void

August 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
In this down economy, a lot of people are looking for ways to supplement their incomes. Some women are making ends meet by donating their eggs.

"I don't think many people wake up one morning and say 'Hey, I'm going do this just because," said Michelle, an egg donor.

"Michelle" doesn't want to be identified, but we can tell you she is a mother, a student and an egg donor. She's done it twice, but says it's a long and painful process that she doesn't endure for free.

"Now, I'm doing it again for financial reasons," said Michelle.

She's not alone. In fact, more and more women are looking to fertility clinics to fill a financial void in these tough economic times. In the Bay Area, an egg donor is paid $7,000 and she can donate up to six times. While a surrogate can make about $30,000 for carrying someone else's baby.

"We have recognized that money can be an incentive for somebody to be an egg donor and we try to balance the compensation so it's not the primary motivation," said Dr. Susan Willman, Reproductive Science Center.

At the Reproductive Science Center in San Ramon, 85 women are on their list of qualified egg donors. One of primary characteristics they look for is altruism, donors who just want to help families grow.

On average, the center gets about 120 calls per month from people asking to be a possible egg donor, but in July, the number shot up to 156. That's the most for the entire year.

"There were more college-aged women who were looking at ways to help fund their schooling," said Dr. Willman.

Michelle is one of them. She signed up for a third time, two weeks ago.

"We're going use it to put aside and pay for books and everything as we go along because we're both in school, my fiancé and I both," said Michelle.

The center only accepts 10 percent of inquiring donors and it requires about an eight-week-long commitment.

While doctors hope the donors aren't just looking for financial gain, in this case, the numbers do add up.


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