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Portland woman talks about selling her eggs

By Kim Tobin
Published On: Nov 15 2012 12:53:27 AM CST
Updated On: Nov 15 2012 12:54:05 AM CST

In a special report, NewsChannel 21's Kim Tobin talks with a Portland woman who donated reproductive eggs, in exchange for cash, and that led to 10 children.

PORTLAND, Ore. -

A challenging question for women to ponder: Would you ever give up your body's reproductive eggs, in exchange for cash?

There's an opportunity to make thousands, but many religious groups do not support the practice -- and not everyone can imagine someone else having their offspring.

Diana Dishman, 28, from Portland donated her eggs six times -- and as a result, 10 children have been born.

"They generally say, 'Doesn't it weird you out to know you have kids out there?'" Dishman said recently. "But for me personally, I just don't feel like DNA has anything to do with what makes someone a parent. So it was never an issue."

Dishman was an egg donor for several families. Now she is pregnant with a baby girl of her own.

"There are 10 kids out there, but this is my first baby, you know?" said Dishman.

Experts say egg donation is growing trend among young women, especially for those paying off student loans or going to graduate school.

Dishman was ready for graduate school, but didn't have the money. She said it was a big reward, for little sacrifice.

"I think that's the main reason that people do it, and some people are afraid to say that," said Dishman. "When I went in for my psychological screening appointment, they said that's a perfectly healthy, normal reason to want to go through this process."

On top of the screening, Dishman also had to pass several medical tests. After that, it's what she describes as a "very expensive dating site."

An egg donor's physical information, personality traits and family medical history are all accessible to families with a click of the mouse.

"The vast majority of couples are looking for a young woman who has similar features to the recipient mother," said Elizabeth Barbieri, MD, from Oregon Reproductive Medicine.

Barbieri works at the same place Dishman underwent the procedure. She said donors have to take hormonal injections, live healthy lifestyles and undergo a 20-minute surgery.

After it's complete, the donor receives a check.

"In our program, if a woman is donating for the first time, her compensation is about $7,000," Barbieri said. "If she's donated once, and that process was successful and she wants to come back again, the compensation increases slightly, to $8,500."

At the maximum number, Dishman has donated six times. For that, she made $40,000 total, after taxes.

"You get taxed at a really high rate," Dishman said. "You get this check, and it feels fantastic, but then you realize that at least a quarter of it or so is going to taxes."

While the money is nice, there are risks. Barbieri said. Ovarian hyper-stimulation is possible, when the body leaks fluid into the stomach, but it's very rare.

In the end, doctors say many women feel rewarded to help fulfill a family's dream.

"They're overwhelmed with joy -- and when they have that baby, there is no doubt in their mind that that's their baby," Barbeiri said.

One day, there's a chance Dishman may speak or even meet the children her eggs helped create.

At the beginning of the process, a contract is signed, and Dishman has allowed all 10 children the option to contact her at age 18.

She said if they ever wanted to speak with her, she'd answer any questions they had.

"I think it helps people, particularly if you're a teenager, help find your identity a little bit and know where you came from," Dishman said.

As Dishman plans to be a mother herself, she said when the time comes, she'll tell her children about having been an egg donor.

"It's interesting for me as a biologist, as kind of an experiment, to know that there are 10 other people out there that have my DNA," Dishman said. "But at the same time, it's the care you give your child that makes you a parent, and not your genetics."

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