Monday, June 26, 2006


Young American women, many facing crippling student loan and credit card debts, are selling their eggs for a base rate of $15,000. Is this free market capitalism in action, or is nothing sacred anymore?

The Boston Herald has a fascinating feature on this rapidly growing new industry :

Galbraith's fee is on the high end of the spectrum, which starts at about $5,000 per donation cycle. That's the process by which eggs are artificially stimulated to mature, then surgically "harvested," or extracted.

Each of her three prior donations produced egg counts in the 40s - more than double what is typical - and each resulted in offspring. So her price has climbed, from $5,000 to $8,000 to $15,000.

What's more, she and her sister, a nursing student in Illinois who is also a donor, are starting their own agency to recruit other donors and match them with patients. The sisters have already recruited a few of their friends and are actively looking for more donors.

And they know where to look: college towns, where the perfect specimens - young, SAT-tested women deep in debt - can be recruited through school newspaper ads, websites like craigslist, and photocopied fliers stapled to trees. The ads probably won't mention the medical and psychological screenings. Or the injections of hormones. Or the suctioning. They will mention families in need. And they will promise cash.

"That's why it's tempting," Galbraith says. "If they can squeeze in $10,000 in a couple of months, that's good money."

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