By Melisa Coburn, CafeMom.com
Times are tough. Maybe you just got laid off. So, as you're scanning craigslist for jobs, you see this ad:
"Donate your eggs for cash! Compensation: Earn $7,000 + expenses for first egg donor cycle. $7,500 + expenses for each repeat egg donation. Earning potential of up to $44,500 + expenses. We welcome women ages 21-29 of all ethnicities, academic achievements, and creative talents."
Ads like these may not be new, but as the economy tanks the number of women responding to them is on the rise -- as much as 30 percent or more at some clinics -- and also judging from the number of questions being asked about egg donation around CafeMom.com.
"My eggs are awesome, and shoot, I'm not using them!" says one CafeMom user. "Seriously, where do I sign up?"
Others find the payoff tempting, but can't get passed the ethics.
"I have a hard time with the idea that my child is out there in the world somewhere, and not knowing what their life is like," one mom says. "And it's always seemed really extravagent in my mind for a couple to spend so much money on IVF when they could adopt a child who has already been concieved and needs a home. Especially when I consider the ethical issues that go along with creating several embryos and freezing them."
Catch more of this back-and-forth on donating eggs in Pregnancy Buzz on CafeMom.
Meantime, I wanted to find out what it's actually like to donate an egg, and talked with a CafeMom of three kids who did it -- twice.
What gave you the idea to donate your eggs?
I wanted other couples to know the joy of having a baby and going through the whole process, from conception to birth.What is the selection process like?
They are very, very selective in picking donors. You must have already given birth at least once and you have to be within a certain age range -- for my clinic I believe it was 20 - 31. The process is pretty lengthy the first time you do it because you have to go through a number of tests, including a physical evaluation.
How much money did you get?
I was given $3,000.00 both times, and it's not taxed because it's considered reimbursement for time missed at work. You are not selling your eggs, you are donating. You do have to wait a week for the reimbursement because you have to go back to the clinic for a follow-up visit to make sure there aren't any problems.
How long does it take to donate an egg, and does it hurt?
Well, you go through quite a bit of testing, including blood draws a few times a week once you start the process. They also do an internal ultrasound to check your ovaries. You must be able to give yourself injections a few times a day for 2-3 weeks.
The injections are hormones to keep you from ovulating [until they're ready for you to]. The goal for them is to harvest as many eggs as possible. The first time I did it, they only got seven, but the second time, they got 24. They all go to the same family so that if the couple decides to have future children they will look alike.
Once it's time to harvest the eggs, they put you under and it only takes about 15 minutes for them to retrieve the eggs. The doctors stick a very small needle through the vagina and into each ovary. The doctors then suck the mature eggs out of each ovary through the follicles. It usually takes under an hour. When you wake up, the only thing you feel is some slight cramping.
Were you an anonymous donor?
Everything is anonymous between the donor and the families. You're just a number on your file so that when other moms come in for their IVF treatments, they aren't wondering if you're their donor.
Is it wrong to donate your eggs purely for financial reasons? Would you do it if you were drowning in debt?
See related stories:
Trying to Conceive: Are You Ovulating, Mama?
Freeze Ovaries Now, Have Babies Later
Should Poor Women Have Babies?