Is the Surge Working? ABC and NBC Cover the Story

Posted On November 3rd, 2008

The broadcast networks are catching up with this old story about the alleged “surge” in egg donations. In ABC’s video “Egg Donations On The Rise” (shown on Good Morning America), they had one clinic owner testify that applications are up about 50%. However, the piece assumed throughout that anyone who applied could actually donate eggs; it never distinguished between egg donor candidates and actual donors.

This caused some major inaccuracies. Anyone can apply to be an egg donor; only a small percentage, about 10%, will go on to donate. There was no claim that the actual number of egg donor cycles have increased as well. [See my earlier post: Egg Donation and the Economy.]

Another claim, that a “decline in standards” would be an inevitable consequence of this influx of egg donors, is illogical on two counts. First, the bigger the pool of applicants, the more selective recipients and doctors can be; second, FDA regulations for screening are uniform and not a matter of interpretation. The report implied that egg donation agencies screen candidates, but in fact, medical professionals do. Corners are never cut in order to accommodate any candidate; it’s against the law. Although it provided no evidence, the piece implied, however, that these risks are taken. It puts a sensationalistic spin on the story, no matter how erroneous.

NBC Nightly News did a segment (“Surge in Egg Donations Raises Concerns“) which covered the alleged surge in context of the health of the egg donor, and overall was more accurate. It discussed the need for a registry for egg donors that would track their long-term health. This is a good idea; any privacy issues should be able to be resolved. The ABC piece also discussed a registry for donors so that their offspring could track their genetic heritage. I support this as well. The more we know and learn about every aspect of this process, the better off we will be.

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