British woman offers eggs for sale on US website
Progress Educational Trust07 November 2006
A twenty-six year old British woman has advertised her eggs for sale on an American website in order to pay off debts. Alexandra Saunders ran up debts of up to ?15,000 on credit cards which she hopes will be cleared if an American couple choose to use her eggs at a fee of around ?20,000.
In the UK payment for egg donation is illegal, unlike the US, where a number of websites link childless couples to women willing to donate eggs in exchange for cash. Miss Saunders read about the money that could be made selling eggs in this way in a magazine article. Despite currently holding three jobs, one full time day job and two evening jobs in pubs, her annual income is only around ?20,000. 'It just sounds like a good idea - easy money really - and it helps someone out', she told the Daily Mail newspaper.
A recent change to the law in the UK also removed the anonymity of gamete donors. Under the new rules once a child born from donated gametes reaches 18 years old, they may be told the identity of their biological parents. This, coupled with the fact that eggs cannot be bought or sold, as well as the procedure being invasive and uncomfortable, have contributed to a shortage of egg donors in the UK.
There are concerns that women may be unaware of the risks involved in donating if their motives are purely financial. Josephine Quintavalle of Comment for Reproductive Ethics told the Daily Mail that 'the sort of money on offer in the US to egg donors is extremely tempting to some but I think at the very least women should be well informed about the risks. Egg donation is not like sperm donation. Women's eggs have to be harvested and the procedure can cause infertility, illness and even death. That is why people in the US pay such high prices for eggs because of the dangers involved.' Miss Saunders has reportedly not yet received a response to her advert.
Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.