Female egg donation existed and has gained increasing momentum in recent years which is something fertility centers all too often conceal from the public eye.
It is also recognized that the risks and possible complications for female egg donors were far more dangerous than those for male sperm donors. What still causes a lot of questions about female egg donation is that the vulnerable women having their eggs harvested are all too often left anonymous victims in the process. Egg donation is not an equal opportunity employer. In fact, the word 'donation' in this context is extremely misleading; the women considered egg 'donors' are actually financially compensated quite heavily.
With promises of anywhere from $5,000 to a whopping $100,000 for a successful egg harvest, fertility clinics do not target affluent women. Rather, these advertised egg donation services appeal to low-income, and often vulnerable, women who desperately need the money. Traditional informational posters as well as social media based advertisements (such as Facebook ads) promise women a quick way to earn much needed cash and act benevolently by providing eggs to an infertile couple.
Little do they know this benevolence may end up costing them their lives. The women interviewed experienced life threatening complications after undergoing the hormonal therapy and egg retrieval process. One woman suffered a debilitating stroke which left her paralyzed on the left side of her body and hospitalized for over a month. Another, after having her eggs collected, learned she had an ovarian torsion which was causing her to vomit stool. She repeatedly asked for assistance from the fertility clinic, but only after multiple visits were her concerns taken seriously by doctors. Had the torsion been ignored for much longer, she says, she likely would have died.
These women, one of which is now infertile, admit they were acting partially out of financial need, but also emphasized a desire to help an infertile couple conceive a child. The advertisements offering the chance to earn money and help someone along the way seemed too good to be true and for these women, they were. The life-long complications these women will now endure as a result of donating their eggs are something they must live with every day. They chose to have this elective procedure done to their bodies, but was there informed consent? Is the process of egg donation even ethical as it stands today?