American egg market – prices based on SAT

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In a new small study, a researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) found American egg donors' compensation correlated with their scores on the SAT, a standardized academic assessment test used for entry into American universities and colleges.

Aaron D. Levine, assistant professor in the School of Public Policy at Georgia Tech, analyzed egg donor advertisements targeting female college students and published his findings in Georgia Tech's The Hastings Center Report March/April edition.

Levine noted that 25 percent of the advertisements offered payment in excess of $10,000 (€7485) and routinely cited ethnic, physical appearance and other characteristic requirements, all violations of guidelines issued by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).

After charting various traits, Levine noticed with each increase of 100 SAT points the compensation offered to egg donors increased by $2350 (€1760) and offers went as high as 50,000 (€37,425).

Egg donation is the process where a woman gives 10-15 eggs normally to help infertile couple conceive or for research. The egg retrieval involves a surgery to take the eggs from a woman's ovary. It is invasive and not so simple as sperm donation. Both egg donors and the recipients can have a range of psychological feelings; the egg donor must resolve in ten or more years that they have a biological child in the world and the recipient family will go through a roller coaster of emotions through the long and challenging process.

If it is solely about the money, the kidney black market based on location could yield more:

India: $20,000 (€14,970)
China: $40,000 (€29,940)
Israel: $160,000 (€119,750)

eBay, an online auction site, and Craigslist, a social marketplace, had postings where people attempted to sell kidneys: the offers ranged from $100,000 (€74,848) plus medical expenses to bids of $5.75 million (€3.78 million). Both sites removed the postings.

Plus the underground medical market could get a lot more interesting once the US Congress decides on the Organ Trafficking Prohibition Act of 2009 as it would allow payment to organ donors. It is unclear if the ASRM guidelines would be impacted.

Sources:
Aaron D. Levine, "Self-Regulation, Compensation, and the Ethical Recruitment of Oocyte Donors," Hastings Center Report 40, no 2 (2010): 25-36: http://www.thehastingscenter.org/Publications/HCR/Detail.aspx?id=4549
"Egg Donation: Psychological Experiences of Recipients": http://www.surrogacy.com/psychres/article/eggdon.html
PopSci.com: http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2010-01/which-organs-can-i-live-without-and-how-much-cash-can-i-get-them

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