Frozen Donor Eggs: An Emerging Market and a Word to the Wise

Posted On October 10th, 2013

Now that new freezing techniques have made frozen eggs more viable, doctors and patients are eager to work them, as they offer some time and cost advantages over fresh. However, because a donor egg cycle is so costly, is it not financially practical in most cases for a clinic to do a donor egg cycle on speculation. The costs for the procedures, drugs, and donor compensation are typically more than the selling price of the resulting eggs. So clinics have been working on some creative solutions, which they may enthusiastically pitch to their patients as well as to prospective donors. I would like to make both parties aware of the full implications and motivations of these strategies, so that they can make informed decisions.

DONOR EGG RECIPIENTS: your doctor may encourage you NOT to fertilize all the eggs retrieved from your donor, to avoid the supposed ethical conundrum of left over frozen embryos. I am dubious of this advice, as in my experience, recipients want as many good quality frozen embryos as possible, and would not want to compromise all that time, money, and effort by not fertilizing all their eggs. Any doctor who advises this does not have that state of your conscience in mind: he or she wants to buy any left over frozen eggs from you to sell to his other patients! Most egg donor recipients we work with would rather have frozen embryos than an extra few hundred dollars, although some may appreciate getting some money back.


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Beyond Compensation: Egg Donor Expenses & Financial Liability (2 of 3)

Posted On December 1st, 2008

In Beyond Compensation:  Egg Donor Expenses and Financial Liability (1 of 3), we claimed to stand against penalty clauses in egg donor contracts. Here is why.

Penalty clauses in egg donor contracts are unfair.

The penalty, if enforced, could well add up to thousands of dollars, which the egg donor very likely does not have. Should she take the chance to make $10K, but in case of an unexpected turn of events, get no money at all but instead have to pay thousands to someone else?  It is not a risk any attorney would advise a client to take. The donor is already putting herself at a medical risk; she should not have to put herself at a financial risk, too.

Penalty clauses in this type of “personal services” contract will probably be held unenforceable.

A judge would be hard-pressed to assess a money damage award against a woman who did not allow her donor eggs to be harvested, absent a showing of fraudulent intent.

The penalty for backing out is that the egg donor does not get paid: the deal is that you take a reasonable risk with your money; the donor takes a reasonable risk with her body. It’s not like you are purchasing a piece of property. We have never encountered a case of a recipient recovering expenses and damages from an egg donor who did not fulfill her obligations.


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On Alex Kuczynski’s “Her Body, My Baby”

Posted On November 30th, 2008

So, we finally get to read the Sunday Magazine article, and they do not credit Sanford Benardo or Northeast Assisted Fertility Group (NAFG) for our input. Oh, well. Nonetheless, I found Kuczynski’s story of infertility and surrogacy heartfelt and brazenly honest. It was also pretty accurate.

I first read the story as a text-only computer print-out; only this morning did I see the accompanying photos, which blatantly expose her provocative subtext: “I am rich, white, urban, and privileged; dare to judge me for paying lower status women to do what I cannot.” Anyone familiar with Kuczynski’s writing would expect this. Readers commenting on the New York Times site, for the most part, declared her a self-indulgent snob; a handful were sympathetic. This was a personal story, not a serious study of surrogacy. It would be unfortunate if the general public judged surrogacy solely through Kuczynski’s lens.  Journalistic surrogacy stories are typically sensationalistic; this one is no different in that regard.

A couple of quibbles: I think Kucsynski did “low ball” the figure for the total cost of the surrogacy: although her carrier did not require extra insurance, if you add up the agency fee, carrier fee, legal fees, and medical fees, the figure is closer to $100K than $70K. We find many agencies are not upfront with all the possible costs involved to prevent scaring off prospective clients. (The NAFG site includes a section on program fees which shows a complete itemized breakdown.) Also, we would not advise “skirting” any legal issues and having the embryo transfer take place in New York,


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