Egg donation requires a medical examination, several medical procedures, several invasive ultrasound scans, close to a dozen blood draws, and numerous injections. In the best of circumstances it is inconvenient, time-consuming and uncomfortable.
Clearly these women deserve more than $50.
But how much more?
Years ago we established a fee of $5,000 per egg donation cycle at Saint Barnabas, the cost borne by the recipient. The prevailing fee at the time in the New York metropolitan area was $2,500. At the time we had over a one year wait list for donors. We found that the most of our prospective donors found this insufficient for the time and inconvenience they went through.
Our patients did not object to the increase in the donor fee because they knew that this would increase the availability of donors. The donors themselves did not see the increase as inappropriate either. No big deal, I thought.
Driving home from the hospital I checked 1010 WINS for the traffic report, only to hear a THIS JUST IN story about our humble little clinic paying the astronomical sum of $5000 to each egg donor. The world media seemed to think this was a noteworthy story too and we garnered even more press for this simple act of bookkeeping than we later would for the introduction of cytoplasm transfer.
We can no more ignore the laws of supply and demand than we can ignore the laws of gravity. I was not at all uncomfortable in 1997 with paying donors $5,000 for egg donation.
Of course my equanimity had boundaries. When Internet sites popped up offering fashion models' and actresses' eggs for $100,000-$150,000 a cycle, I felt the same indignation that critics of my program expressed when we paid our donors $5,000.