Egg donation: Fertility biz to extend a family
“Infertility, what a harsh sounding word this is….”
Suhani (name changed) parents are tribals in Utnoor, Adilabad in Telangana state. They were very poor and she wanted to earn for her parents to give them a decent living. When some actors came there for shooting they offered her a role as a model. She was modeling for small advertising firms but somehow she did not click. Her eyes, her looks gave her another “career” to earn. Name changed, style altered she is busy as an egg “agent” in Mumbai. She quit her career in modeling. This fetches her handsome living.
In the beginning she was hesitant but later but the money proved too much to resist — she made between 1 lakh to 1.5 lakhs for her first donation, in 2010. “I didn’t want to be a stripper. I wanted to figure out my career, so there was really no other choice at the time, for I wanted to give all those comforts to my parents.
After that donation, her name was entered into a database. Now egg agents call constantly. I’m a hot commodity because I receive a good response and am in demand because of the colour of my eyes.
Now 24, she’s in the process of donating her eggs for a third time.
The hottest role these days for a young “unsuccessful” actress and models is Egg donation. Egg “agents” are aggressively recruiting models and actresses, whose looks are coveted by couples turning to in-vitro fertilization.
A 2010 documentary produced by The Center for Bioethics and Culture, explores the depths of this rapidly growing and largely unregulated industry. “Eggsploitation” highlights the ethical concerns of women receiving money for their eggs, which falls into the practice of treating body parts as a commodity.
It has become a disturbing urban trend as girls and young women donate their oocytes or eggs to make quick and easy money. Now the profile of the egg donor is changing. If they were from poor socio-economic backgrounds until recently, now educated and working women have surfaced as egg donors, although they too are driven essentially by a financial need.
It has been found that across cities young females have been cashing in on the demand for human eggs. With more and more childless couples seeking the help of fertility clinics, egg donation for money has been on the rise.
While the process of egg donation is a legal act, there are clauses and conditions that are often not followed as fertility clinics sometimes even fail to inform potential donors about the health risks involved. In most cases girls end up donating their oocytes multiple times, which results in hormonal imbalances says Dr.Rajini gynecologist.
In an industry where attractiveness is a prerequisite and steady income is hard to come by, budding actress and models often are an egg agent’s perfect targets.
The process begins with an agency setting up video interviews with different couples until one picks her. Says Hashini (name changed) who almost got on to prostitution when this idea of donating eggs was suggested by her gynaec.
I CAN donate up to six times, but she says she is reluctant to do so.
“They tell you all the things that can go wrong but not the long-term effects because they don’t know them,” she said.
Those close to her have been reluctant to give support, but Kasturbai says she never hid what she was doing.
“Everyone said don’t tell anyone, and I said, ‘If I’m going to give a gift, I’m not going to be ashamed,’ ” she recalled.
“Knowing you’re giving life is what gets me through it.”
But there was one problem which she was facing though her looks mattered her religion, caste became a problem in many cases. She was from a backward tribal group.
The most baffling question to doctors at these clinics is couples wanting to know the caste of egg donors.
Even though doctors claim of not entertaining such queries and rather concentrating on “quality of egg”, several couples keep nagging hospital staff till they get some clue about the caste. Dr Saurabh Kumar of Frozen Cell, a said several people were curious to know the caste of the egg donors.
“Fertility clinics cannot reveal caste and identity of donors as it involves chances of parentage claims” says Dr.Ajay Kumar Member of ethics committee of World Medical Council.
The demand is not only for “healthy, beautiful, fair and tall but also higher caste.
The shortage of “perfect” donors has prompted fertility specialists to decry the present trend of couples’ obsessing with perfect kids. “Some couples are even particular about the colour of the donor’s eyes or hair,” Dr Firuza at the Fertility clinic. “They forget that assisted reproduction has a success rate of just 20% .Given such a low rate, couples should just hope to have a baby, any baby, instead of seeking a designer kid. Life is no longer a gift of love; it is being created with care to fit specifications furnished by parents in the age of surrogacy and In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), says award-winning writer Kishwar Desai.
Dr.Naina Desai feels this is one of the best donations, infertility is a very harsh sounding word and the society hounds such couples. Extend help to become a family.