Men, of course, aren't the only donors out there. In recent years, egg donation has become more common. Just ask Ginger Green at the Houston Fertility Institute.
When the clinic opened six years ago, Green says, it assisted between ten and 20 women looking to conceive via egg donation. In 2007, the clinic helped 80 women; the clinic has already served 80 women as of October 2008.
Unlike the $80-$100 a sperm donor receives per specimen, egg donors at the Institute get $3,000-$5,000.
human egg donation
As Green says, "A lot of times [the donors] are in college, but we also have a lot of young ladies who have started their family early, have had a couple of children and really are about finished with their family. And they just want to help someone else — they can't imagine life without a child."
She says the increase in women seeking donors has followed general demographic shifts — as more women get older, they're taking serious steps toward motherhood. It's also become more visible in recent years.
"A lot of Hollywood is doing this and so you read about it in People or in [the] tabloids," she says.
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The compensation donors receive via the Institute is in keeping with ethical guidelines established by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
According to the society, "Total payments to donors in excess of $5,000 require justification and sums above $10,000 are not appropriate."
And according to a 2007 study published in the Society's journal, Fertility and Sterility, there aren't a lot of confirmed reports indicating that egg donors are paid astronomical sums.
According to information from the study, "Despite scattered and largely unverified reports of amounts of $50,000 or more appearing repeatedly in the media...the average level of compensation provided for egg donors was less than $5,000."