Saturday, 27 March 2010

How much is a human egg worth?

How much is a human egg worth?

It is still illegal in the UK, as in most other European countries, to pay a human egg donor. However, in sunny California, and the rest of the US, it is OK to put a price on an egg. Now, the UK government regulatory agency HFEA is expected to approve payment for donating human eggs for scientific research. Should this kind of merchandise take place, or should it be done on a ‘non-profit’ basis? What do you all think? I think it’s the same question as with transplants – so feel free to include that topic too in the discussion!

In the US ‘big bucks’:
Increase in egg donors raises concerns
AP - Sun Feb 18, 1:47 PM ET
Human egg donation was a rarity not so long ago. But heightened demands for eggs — and rising compensation for donors — are prompting more young women to consider it. Jennifer Dziura, a 28-year-old New Yorker, is one of them.She received $8,000 to donate her eggs in the fall of 2005 and hopes she'll be chosen again before the private egg broker she's registered with considers her too old. She realizes prospective parents who view her profile might think it a minus that her father is adopted, allowing for little medical history from his side. She also figures some are looking for a blonde, instead of a brunette.

… and in the UK:
Women will be paid to donate eggs for science
£250 payment to aid disease research. Fears over landmark medical ruling
The Observer - Sunday February 18, 2007

Women will be paid to donate their eggs for scientific research in a landmark decision that will prompt a fierce backlash from leading figures in the medical world. The Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the government regulator of this highly sensitive area, is expected to approve the policy when it meets on Wednesday. At present, clinics are not allowed to accept eggs donated for scientific research unless they are a byproduct of either IVF treatment or sterilisation. Campaigners for change say that this has led to a chronic shortage of eggs for scientific use.

See also:
Asian women command premium prices for egg donation in U.S. 
LA Times - May 5, 2012 
Egg donors offered up to $50,000
Fees far exceed ethics guidelines, study finds
MSNBC - March 26, 2010
Human Ovulation Caught on Camera
CellNEWS - Wednesday, 18 June 2008
Most egg cells in a female body die naturally by programmed cell death
CellNEWS - Tuesday, 24 July 2007
Back to the question: How much is a human egg worth?
CellNEWS - Tuesday, 09 October 2007


For more on stem cells and cloning, go to CellNEWS at


ZenMaster said...

Human egg donation rules changed
Thursday February 22

The UK Government's fertility watchdog has given the go-ahead for women to donate their eggs altruistically for medical research.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) approved recommendations by its Ethics and Law Committee that women who are not undergoing fertility treatment should be permitted to donate their eggs.

Angela McNab, chief executive of the HFEA, said: "The Authority has decided that women will be allowed to donate their eggs to research, both as an altruistic donor or in conjunction with their own IVF treatment.

"Given that the medical risks for donating for research are no higher than for treatment, we have concluded that it is not for us to remove a woman's choice of how her donated eggs should be used."

But authority members made it clear donors would not be paid for their donation, receiving only travel expenses and a small amount of compensation for any loss of earnings. Women undergoing fertility treatment will receive a discount if they donate eggs, authorities said, while others will receive up to 250 pounds (about US$500) for each fertilization cycle to cover costs such as travel or lost work time. Previously women have only been able to donate spare eggs produced through IVF or gynaecological treatment, such as sterilization.

The eggs would be used to create cloned embryos, with the hope of extracting stem cells. Because stem cells have the potential to become any cell in the body, scientists believe studying them could lead to cures for numerous diseases, including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, or motor neurone diseases.

Professor Alison Murdoch, who is director of the Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life, said: "Women are capable of making their own minds up about whether or not they donate their eggs for research. Society should respect their autonomy."

Some experts argued that women should be entitled to more than 250 pounds. Anna Smajdor, researcher in Medical Ethics at Imperial College, said women should be offered fair payment for donation.

"The advantage is all on the side of those who already stand to gain, while altruistic donors assume all the risks and receive none of the benefits."

"Eggs are already a highly prized commodity, 250 pounds fails on all counts: it is enough to entice women from poorer countries while failing to represent the market value of eggs."

Unknown said...

This is an interesting, widely under-reported topic that the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting is presently investigating.

Journalist Scott Carney who is, at the time of writing, releasing a series of blog posts with the Pulitzer Center on the human egg trade in Spain and Cyprus:

"The price of a human egg depends on the characteristics of the donor.

In America, eggs harvested from white college students at Ivy League institutions can sell for as much as $100,000.

But there’s a cheaper way to get them.

Selling human eggs is illegal in much of Europe, however Cyprus and Spain have loopholes in their fertility industries markets that encourage desperate and poor women to sell their eggs for as little as $1400."

Scott Carney looks interviews different perspectives of the "trade" throughout Spain and Cyprus - from donors, doctors, go-betweens, and clinic recruiters.

Read the full series here:

Maura Youngman
Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

N said...

There is much more to this than most want to know. The entire Human Genome Project has been enabled via the introduction of IVF. There is no research into why women are becoming increasingly infertile because scientists and researchers needed the eggs and were unable to get them 'freesale'. Through IVF they now have them 'wholesale', avoiding serious ethical debate and futher reducing women to a series of bady parts.