College Students Targeted for Egg Donation

ByABC News
May 19, 2006, 3:30 PM

May 19, 2006 — -- When she was a film school student several years ago, Carrie Specht spotted an advertisement in a newspaper seeking out women willing to donate their eggs.

It sounded intriguing -- and it was a way to make money.

"I'm not going to kid anybody. The dollar signs were there first and foremost," said Specht, who attended New York University.

Unlike sperm donation, egg donation is not a simple process. It requires six weeks of sometimes painful hormone injections and the egg is retrieved under local anesthetic. And there can be long-term health risks.

But the payout is big -- the going rate for eggs is about $5,000 but can be as high as $20,000, depending on special characteristics such as high SAT scores, athletic or artistic ability.

This large check is especially attractive to cash-strapped college students, who are easy to target with ads in college newspapers.

"For the average 19- to 20-year-old woman, it's relatively easy to make $5,000 to $25,000 for six weeks of discomfort," said Debora Spar, the author of "The Baby Business," one of the first books to investigate the economics of the fertility industry.

As many as 10,000 babies born each year are conceived through egg donation -- and that number is expected to climb. The trend itself is relatively new. Spar said women who donate differ on whether it's a good or bad experience

For example, Specht said she found the experience so positive she has donated four times.

"Knowing that I've helped people, knowing that I've enriched somebody's life," Specht said. "That I've made some people's dreams come true That's a really wonderful feeling."