Egg Donation & Surrogacy

Facts, insights and opinions about egg donors, surrogates, and intended parents.

Beyond Compensation: Egg Donor Expenses & Financial Liability (1 of 3)

by Katherine Benardo

Apart from egg donor compensation (at a limit of $10,000 for her time and effort, according to the ASRM), our egg donors are entitled to reimbursement for other expenses incurred by the process. For local donors, these can include gas, tolls, parking, and lost wages for the retrieval day (which requires a full day off from work). For out out-of- town egg donors, expenses include travel, hotel, per diem cash (NAFG’s egg donation program offers $75 per day), lost wages, as well as travel, hotel and per diem expenses for a companion.  Although we appreciate the financial sacrifice that recipients make for fertility treatment, we discourage our clients from nickel and diming here: yes, your donor is getting paid for her efforts, but she is doing you a great service, and for that, she should be in a comfortable hotel, have money for food, and not be penalized for losing work. As an agency, we work hard to find reasonable rates for flights and hotels, but egg donor safety and comfort is our primary concern. An estimated expense budget is specified in the contract, so all agree on its amount and scope ahead of time.

According to our policy, the donor only receives her compensation if the retrieval takes place. If, for any reason, the egg donation cycle is not completed, the donor does not get paid. (Some agencies pay the fee in increments along various stages in the process, but we do not.) She cannot be held responsible for the recipients’ expenses for any of her travel or medical care (except in a hypothetical case of willful fraud on the donor’s part). We have never had a case so far of an egg donor backing out of a cycle once the medications have started (she is, after all, just days away from her retrieval: aside from a medical or other unforeseen disaster, why would she back out after she has come so far?), but we have encountered recipients eager to protect themselves from this unlikely occurrence.  To this end, a minority of assisted reproduction attorneys include severe penalty clauses in their contracts, claiming that if the donor backs out for “unreasonable” (but unspecified) reasons, she is responsible for paying for her expenses, plus any money spent on medical care and medications related to the egg donation cycle for both parties from the start (although we never had an attorney willing to specify exactly what this amount would be).  We at NAFG stand firmly against such penalty clauses in egg donor contracts, for many reasons.

To be continued in Beyond Compensation:  Egg Donor Expenses and Financial Liability (2 of 3).