A woman with a German or Scandinavian background may qualify to earn $4,000… that is if she doesn’t mind donating her eggs to the infertile couple that posted a classified ad.
Besides responding to newspaper ads, women can donate their eggs to the Rocky Mountain Center for Reproductive Medicine in Fort Collins. Women who donate their eggs, or oocytes, to the center are paid $2,500 for their contribution.
“A lot of women might donate their eggs for the money, but it still benefits the cause,” said Stephanie Ross, a junior technical journalism and speech communication major.
The RMCRM has two types of oocyte donor programs. In one program, the donor and recipient (person receiving the eggs) are completely anonymous, while the other program allows recipients to see pictures of the donor.
Not every woman is qualified to donate her eggs. In order to be eligible, a woman must fill out a form indicating she is between 18 and 35 years old, healthy and, as most recipients prefer, a non-smoker. In addition, a woman must have no history of drug use or any genetic problems in her family.
“A lot of recipients choose donors based on their blood type,” said Brenda Epstein-Mitchell, business administrator at RMCRM.
“Recipients pay about $16,000 to receive oocytes, which covers all of the medical expenses and compensates the donor.
“Donating eggs takes a substantial commitment,” Epstein-Mitchell said. “It takes a lot of time and has physical and emotional effects on the donor.”
Women are allowed to donate their eggs six times at the most.
The process of donating oocytes begins when a woman qualifies to be a donor and is placed on a list. If a recipient selects the woman, she is contacted and begins her preparation for the cycle. This includes extensive blood work and psychological testing, cervical cultures for gonorrhea and chlamydia, an ultrasound to check her ovarian reserve and an annual exam with a pap smear.
After the preliminary steps are completed, the in-vitro fertilization can begin. The donor receives injections of medicine that stimulate her ovaries to increase the number of eggs she has. She receives injections for about two to three weeks.
“There shouldn’t be any negative effects or risks from the medicine,” Epstein-Mitchell said. “We monitor the patients closely.”
The next step is the retrieval of the donor’s eggs. Dr. Kevin Bachus retrieves the eggs using a procedure that is not surgical, takes about half an hour to complete and is usually performed under sedation.
Embryologist Shari Olson performs all of the laboratory aspects of the process. She adds sperm to the eggs the same day they are retrieved. After five days, the best embryos are transferred to the recipient’s uterus.
Statistics from RMCRM show a 71 percent pregnancy rate for recipients for the past four years.
Many CSU students support oocyte donors and their recipients.
“I would never look down on people who donate their eggs,” Ross said. However, some women would have a problem with donating their own eggs.
“Personally, I couldn’t do it, because I feel like donating your eggs is like giving a child up for adoption,” said Melissa Boyne, a junior microbiology major.
Although men don’t have eggs to donate, they do have an opinion about the process of helping infertile couples.
“It’s the woman’s choice, but I don’t think it’s wrong to try to bring new life into the world,” said Bryan Horn, a sophomore electrical engineering major.
Currently, there are more donors than recipients at RMCRM. However, donors of certain ethnic backgrounds are often needed.
RMCRM is located at 1080 E. Elizabeth St. in Fort Collins. For more information, call their office at 1-800-624-9035 or go to their Web site at www.drbachus.com.
-Edited by Vince Blaser and Ben Koerselman