Selling Your Body, Legally

By: Casey Wheeless Email
By: Casey Wheeless Email

Donating eggs and sperm are some of the most popular ways people are getting a little extra cash.

The Nashville Fertility Center has been collecting eggs from donors since the 1990's.

"We meet these women, we talk with them, we examine them, we do blood work, we go through a very formal physiological screening," says Dr. Glenn Weizman, a physician with the center.

WBKO talked to two women who have donated their eggs, the women donated through two different anonymous donor services, so we are not releasing their identities.

One woman, we will call her "Mary," says she desperately needed money for college.

Women can make anywhere from $2,000-$10,000 dollars donating their eggs.

"For me it was 100 percent about the money," says Mary, "I was a college student and that usually means (you're) totally broke. It was an opportunity for me to make $2,500 which I could use to pay for college. I was already working three jobs and basically at that point I was getting to sleep three nights a week."

For some it's not about the money, another woman, we call her "Jane" says she saw how the process worked and knew she could help people.

"I just felt like it was something I would want to do," says "Jane." It's kind of like giving blood in a way, it's not helping to save a life, but rather make a life."

For a woman to donate her eggs, the process is lengthy.

"The screening process takes two months," says Dr. Weitzman, "and then, if we're ready and they're ready, it'll take another month or two to get to the process of extracting the eggs."

There are also several criteria that must be met.

"They need to be young," he says." Under 30, oldest donors will be in their early 30's. They must be in the general height/weight combination and healthy."

If the woman meets the criteria an extraction will be done.

"We take a needle to go into the ovary to remove eggs," he says, "So, there are no scars, you are asleep for the process so, it's not painful. Afterwards, you might feel some cramping but other than that just sleepy and a bit out of it."

"When you wake up there are pains but it just feels like menstrual cramps," says Mary.

"Several genetic tests where done, so they're very clear and exact. You know, if my family had a history of cancer that would be disclosed. So, it's very in depth and very thorough," says Jane.

But, the process doesn't come without some controversy.

"I don't think it's invasive or weird that I have a child running around, I don't think about it like that at all," says Jane, "So, I think it's a matter of how the individual perceives it. For me, it's about being able to help people."

Mary felt similar about the situation,
"I think it's kind of cool. Here is something my body is producing and I'm never going to need it because a female proceeds millions and billions of eggs. So, I have so much more so here is something I can make money from."

"Part of the process from the get go is screening these women to know if donating egg is going to create problems down the road. We want to make sure they will be okay psychologically," says Dr. Weitzman.

The center's program is completely anonymous, so the donor and prospective parents never meet.

For men, the process is much less time consuming but, the pay out is also less.

While women are making thousands for their eggs only about $50 is given to men for a collection of their sperm.

The Nashville Fertility Center gets their donor sperms from banks, they're sent to them inside tanks of liquid nitrogen and frozen until they need to be used.

The tanks have to be monitored 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

And when the time is right, the center's lab can create a life.

"You see the families we're able to create with the eggs from these donors," says Dr. Weitzman, "We see the families come back and they bring their babies and it's a gift. It's a gift of life, it's a gift of a family, it's a gift of a lifetime."

The center says some donations are not anonymous, that usually happens when a family member is donating their eggs or sperm to help another family member.

For more information on donating your eggs, visit the Nashville Fertility Center's website by clicking the link below this story.

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