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Applications By Prospective Egg Donors, Surrogates Increase As Economy Declines, WSJ Reports

Posted Jun 12 2009 11:57pm

As the economy has declined, many fertility clinics report a recent increase in the amount of egg donor and surrogacy applicants, which has minimized the waiting period for infertile couples seeking the services, the Wall Street Journal reports. Average compensation for surrogates is $25,000, while egg donors usually receive between $3,000 and $8,000. Robin von Halle, president of the Chicago-based donor agency Alternative Reproductive Resources, said, "Whenever the employment rate is down, we get more calls." The agency has seen a 30% increase in inquiries from prospective donors in recent weeks, the Journal reports. Similarly, James Liu of University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland reports that an increase in the center's list of available donors from four to 17 has eliminated the waiting period for an egg donor. Andrew Vorzimer -- a Los Angeles attorney who represents prospective parents seeking surrogates and is CEO of Egg Donation, a donor recruiting agency in Encino, Calif. -- said the typical six-month waiting period for a surrogate in California has been eliminated. According to Vorzimer, many women looking to become donors "have college loans to pay off or they want to help buy a house or provide for their own kids' education." Despite the economic downturn and the high cost of egg transplantation -- an average of $20,000 per attempt -- clinics report no decrease in demand for donor eggs. Sean Tipton, a spokesperson for American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said, "The disease of infertility does not follow the Dow Jones average.

"Although ASRM advises against compensation of more than $10,000, many agencies advertise higher compensation for specific characteristics, the Journal reports. Darlene Pinkerton -- executive director of A Perfect Match, a San Diego-based donor matching agency -- said that high offers attract women who otherwise might not consider donating. A Perfect Match offers up to $50,000 for egg donors with high SAT scores and recently has experienced a doubling of inquiries from would-be egg donors, Pinkerton said.

According to the Journal, only a "tiny fraction of applicants" who wish to become egg donors will be accepted by agencies. To be listed on a donor registry, a prospective donor must be between ages 20 and 30, in good health and have no history of sexually transmitted infections, hepatitis, diabetes, cancer or depression. In addition, candidates must receive a "battery of genetic and psychological tests and meet a long list of [FDA] requirements for tissue donors," and many agencies turn down donors who are "mainly in it for the money," the Journal reports. Accepted donors are placed on a waiting list for consideration by prospective parents, a process that can continue for several years. Von Halle said, "Now that we have more donors, it's become a buyer's market" (Beck, Wall Street Journal, 12/9).

Reprinted with kind permission from http://www.kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at http://www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/healthpolicy. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2008 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation.

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