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West Coast couple offers $35K for egg(head) donor

by Laura CrimaldiBoston Herald
January 25th, 2009

Most infertile couples hope to receive an egg from a woman who is simply in good health, but a West Coast couple has placed an ad in an MIT publication offering $35,000 to a “genius Asian egg donor.”

“We are not the usual approach. We are setting a high bar,” said the man, whose identity was confirmed by the Herald and who would only give his first name, William.

“We’ve had a couple of near misses,” he said, “but I think we’re going to find what we want.”

William and his wife began placing ads about a year ago in MIT Tech, a student newspaper, and a California Institute of Technology publication in hopes of finding a donor who will help the couple bear a “top student.”

At the Web site eggdonorneeded.com, the couple describes its ideal donor as a “21-year-old Chinese MIT student with A grade-point average, 1500 SAT score, several awards in high school and university,” and with a desire to “help bring a child into the world with the same special gifts she has.”

Dr. Mark Hornstein, director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said families with sky-high standards for egg donors get a lot of public attention, but they are not the norm.

“There is no guarantee with genetics,” said Hornstein. “A recipient couple that believes by matching certain characteristics they are guaranteed to have a certain child is making assumptions that are not biologically correct.”

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine considers donor compensation in excess of $10,000 to be inappropriate, but there are no laws prohibiting higher payments. For example, the Web site elitedonors.com claims to offer $60,000 to $100,000 in compensation to qualified donors.

William said a donor agency the couple consulted before taking control of the search themselves informed them that $35,000 was an appropriate sum given what they seek.

The couple cannot have children on their own because the wife is barren. The ad describes her as a Chinese woman with a “good university degree.” The donated eggs would be fertilized with the husband’s sperm. Those embryos would be used to impregnate the wife, or possibly a surrogate mother, the ad states.

William, who describes himself as a “highly accomplished scientist-mathematician and businessman,” said he’s conducted phone interviews with seven potential donors.

One candidate was a high school valedictorian studying economics, but William said her interview left him “underwhelmed.” He said he gave serious consideration to a woman who is a world-renowned cellist, but decided to keep looking. The couple does not want to settle for a donor who just performs well on exams, William said. They are seeking a more intangible intellect.

William said the couple plans to place a full-page ad in an upcoming edition of MIT Tech.

“We want to get the best,” he said.

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