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4 women on the emotional (and financial) reasons for becoming egg donors

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When Gina-Marie Madow started working for a surrogacy and egg donation agency, she felt the pull to donate her own eggs. While she considered the decision, Madow’s dad posed a question: Was it really about the money? “The financial component was there, of course, but it wasn’t my primary motivator in any way,” Madow says. “When I told my dad about the compensation, he said, ‘Okay, what if I just gave you that amount of money right now—just handed over a check to you so you wouldn’t do it? What would you say?’ And my response was ‘Dad, I’m not doing it for the money.'”

For Madow, becoming a donor was more about helping the families she worked with day in and day out. But the hefty compensation does drive many women who donate their eggs, most of whom are in their twenties and looking for a way to make money fast. The act of egg donation is frequently advertised as an altruistic act that can also earn you a few thousand dollars. Notably excluded from those ads are the potential risks or side effects of an invasive medical procedure. Egg donors fetch a high price because they have to take injectable hormones that stimulate egg growth, thicken the uterine lining, and trigger ovulation. The egg retrieval itself is a transvaginal procedure during which donors are sedated.

That helps explain why for one round of donation, egg donors can earn anywhere from $3,000 and $10,000. For donors that are rarer to come by, such as Asian or Jewish women, the rate can be even higher. “I don’t think you can dangle thousands of dollars in front of somebody and then say that’s not, at least in part, a motivation or factor,” Madow says. For some, egg donation can be a means to fund an education or pay off student loans; for others, a way to supplement their income or help support family. Three women—two of whom donated more than once—told us how they spent their compensation and how they feel about the experience of egg donation now.

Shani Le Roux Bell, 21, admits the initial allure of egg donation was the money. “I always knew about egg donation,” she says. “I thought it would probably be something I would do to help out with college or school.” Bell knew her parents wouldn’t be able to help support her after high school, so when she decided she wanted to be a pilot, donating her eggs seemed like a quick way to help fund her schooling. The pay from her existing job just wasn’t going to cut it.

“There’s not really many ways to get money for flight training other than taking out a loan, and that’s something I........

© Fast Company