WOMEN should receive financial compensation for the donation of their eggs.
And instead of asking why, we have to ask why not.
For Australian couples hoping to receive a donated egg, there is an average four-year waiting list. Because of this time of waiting and because time is often not on their part, some couples are forced to take drastic – and expensive – measures like going abroad where they negotiate money.
Currently in Australia it is illegal to pay or to pay for donating human tissue or organs such as blood, sperm or eggs.
Donations should be strictly altruistic. But the reality is – while donating eggs can be altruistic, it is also a difficult process.
The woman's compensation for her time, physical pain, discomfort and the risks associated with the process is only reasonable. And our current laws are more than likely one of the great reasons for the low levels of donated eggs available to the needy.
It's not about turning the "buying" of eggs into a home industry or bathing women in cash, but rather as a reflection of the reality of what the donation of eggs involves. This is neither quick nor easy.
Unlike donating sperm, donating eggs is not something that can be done for an hour or even 45 seconds, depending on your enthusiasm.
This is a significant, long-term commitment that involves numerous appointments of specialists, invasive medical tests, ongoing hormonal injections, and finally the collection of eggs.
It includes hours at work, weekends and evenings. This is a significant engagement of woman's time, her emotional work and her body.
The first steps of donation go a little like this: women are required to attend at least two counseling sessions where questions about their sex life and health, their fertility history, their family and health stories are asked whether they are already have children or want in the future. Donor partners are also often invited to consultations.
Women are required to take blood tests, vaginal ultrasound examination, meet a nurse to discuss test results and give them green (or red) light.
From there, women have to go through the in vitro cycle, which involves daily hormone injections for days and sometimes weeks to increase the number of eggs that can later be collected.
These injections may have side effects such as weight loss, headache, allergic reactions, gastric pressure, mood swings, and ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. In rare cases, this can lead to blood clots and stroke.
After a round of injections, another ultrasound is performed to see if the hormones have worked and, if any, how many eggs are available for collection.
The collection itself – which is done vaginally – takes about 20 minutes and is not only physically uncomfortable, but can cause damage to the bowel or blood vessels.
Under current laws, women may be compensated for direct costs incurred, such as parking fees, to attend a meeting, but it does not recognize or provide any compensation for the fact that women are forced to miss work – in most cases for many hours – to make the many appointments you need. There is no compensation for physical pain or discomfort.
Providing payment for these aspects of the process is not about creating a lucrative country for Australian women with healthy eggs, but a fair compensation for the significant engagement, pain and timing the donation requires.
This is not just the right thing but the obvious one. Adequate compensation will almost certainly lead to an increase in the rate of donation and the waiting of those who need donors.
Women who decide who donate their eggs make an exceptionally good mood. The claim for compensation and recognition seems fair.