Egg donation becoming more common

Sarah Cockrell

There is a new trend emerging among college women: oocyte donation, also known as egg donation.

Many fertility clinics are starting to advertise on college campuses to attract new donors.

There are 2.1 million infertile couples in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Most donors donate because of the compensation.

“We pay our donors $2,000 per cycle,” said Jim Kontio, laboratory director for the Northeastern Ohio Fertility Center in Akron.

He said some donors in other cities might receive compensations up to $15,000 per cycle. This is common in states such as New York or California. Some recipients desire certain characteristics in the donor and are willing to pay more to get them.

A cycle consists of a six-week process the donor experiences to mature an egg. Donors are given hormones to create more eggs, and the eggs are extracted from the follicles after they mature.

During the six weeks, donors can expect eight to 12 visits to the clinic for check-ups, ultra-sounds, blood work and evaluations. Kontio said the clinic pays for the donation process. There is no expense to the donor.

Kontio said at his clinic they only need about eight to 10 eggs per cycle. Some clinics will try to get up to 40 at one time.

Each week at the fertility center, Kontio said he gets calls from about two or three college-aged women looking to donate.

College-aged women best meet the qualifications of a donor. In order to donate, a person must be between the ages of 18 and 30. Kontio said most donors are usually between the ages of 20 and 27.

It is more difficult to mature a healthy egg in a woman in her mid- to upper- 30s.

A person would not qualify to donate if they are older than 30, have a history of inheritable genetic disorders or have mental illness in the last four generations of their family. In some cases, Kontio said an obese person might not qualify, depending on the characteristics requested by the recipient.

Most recipients are between the ages of 44 and 52.

Kontio said the success rate of maturing an egg and fertilizing it is about 50 to 70 percent.

“I think donating would be weird, I would wonder what the kid would be like,” said Rachel Pochedly, senior fashion merchandising major.

According to the Center for Disease Control, 9.2 million women in the United States have used fertility services at some time in their lives.

“I heard that the procedure is really painful and that it may cause scarring,” said Kayla McDonald, senior communications major.

Kontio said the chances of having complications caused from donating are possible but very rare.

He said complications include damage to the fallopian tubes and blood vessels. The 20-minute surgery consists of a 16-gage needle being inserted through the vaginal wall to extract the egg while the woman is sedated. The surgery does not cause scaring, but there is a risk of infection.

“Be well informed (before donating),” Kontio said. “There is a lot of information online.”

Donors and recipients are all anonymous. People who use fertility clinics are assigned an identification number.

There are 6.1 million women ages 15 to 44 who are infertile, according to the Center for Disease Control.

“It is a tremendous gift that you give these people,” Kontio said. “It’s really a great thing.”

Contact news correspondent Sarah Cockrell at [email protected].