By Mary Ellen McLaughlin

If egg donors weren’t compensated, the whole business of assisted reproductive technology would be a shadow of where it is today. “No one would [donate eggs] for free,” one donor told a writer with MSNBC. “Maybe for your sister, but not for a stranger.”

That’s exactly what I’ve found in 15 years of working with egg donors for ARR. For many of our donors, altruism plays a critical role in their decision. Many have witnessed, first hand, the infertility of a friend or family member. But few would donate without compensation unless it was for someone she knew.

That doesn’t mean we condone the practice by some agencies of promising enormous amounts of money to egg donors.

Compensation to egg donors is intended to reflect the time and inconvenience the process entails. Our donors undergo a lengthy screening process, medical evaluations, hormone injections and an outpatient surgical procedure to retrieve the eggs. Compensation should not be intended or viewed as a bonus for good looks, brains and athletic prowess (and providing such genetics to the highest bidder), but to reflect a process that’s a lot more complicated and, often, uncomfortable, than people realize.

Without compensation, families would be far more limited in their options, as they are in Germany and Italy, where egg donation and surrogacy are illegal. When compensation is fair, both donors and recipients can benefit.