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Pros and Cons of Making Money By Donating Your Bodily Fluids and Eggs

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We live in an amazing medical time where people who cannot conceive can have children thanks to sperm and egg donors, and people who would otherwise die of cancer can live a full life thanks to bone marrow donations. However, along with the wonder of medicine come the moral issues.

Should people be paid to donate bodily fluids and eggs?

Pros of Donating

There are many positives to donating (though the correct term may be “selling” since you are compensated financially for your time and effort). Among some of the benefits:

  1. You can save a life.  Really, is there any greater benefit than this? Robin Roberts, the Good Morning America anchor who bravely fought breast cancer in 2007 and is in remission, recently announced that she is now suffering from a rare blood disorder as a result of her treatments five years ago.  She will undergo a bone marrow transplant this fall to save her life. Luckily for her, her sister was a great match; many other Americans have to rely on donors.
  2. You can help a couple have children. For many couples, their family is not complete until they have children. If they are unable to do so on their own, they can now seek help from a fertility clinic and use donor sperm and/or eggs if need be. Helping a couple realize their dream is worthwhile for many.
  3. You can help a burn victim.  Plasma “is instrumental in maintaining blood pressure and supplying critical proteins for blood clotting and immunity” (Life Share).  It is necessary for burn victims, hemophiliacs, leukemia patients, and those who have recently undergone transplants.
  4. You can earn money. Let’s be honest, as altruistic as the above reasons are, many people are motivated by money. How much can you earn? Sperm donation earns about $50 per donation as does plasma donation. Bone marrow donation earns you $3,000, but you can’t get cash; instead, you get a voucher for housing or college or charity donation. Egg donation can get you between $3,000 and $5,000 per cycle.

Cons of Donating

As many positives as there are to selling your bodily fluids and eggs, there are also important consequences that must be considered.

  1. The poor may be targeted. Many people worry that poor people are the ones who donate because they need the money. Certainly, when one thinks of sperm, egg and plasma donation, one immediately thinks of broke college students. In fact, when I was in graduate school, my friend and I donated plasma once or twice a week. Would I have donated as frequently if I wasn’t broke? Probably not, but I was grateful that I could do it and earn some money to stretch my meager teaching assistantship.
  2. Physically trying on your body. To donate bone marrow, you must first get an injection every day for about 5 days to bring the bone marrow out into the blood stream.  This process can cause you to feel flu like symptoms. Egg donors must take birth control pills in the beginning, then have multiple hormone injections and finally go under sedation when the eggs are harvested.
  3. Important ethical considerations. If you are a frequent egg or sperm donor, you likely have several biological children in this world. In fact, one man who supported himself with sperm donation while in law school recently discovered he is a biological father to 74 kids! Fifteen of those kids have already reached out and want to meet him (Yahoo!). Even if you never see or meet them, there is a chance that two of your biological children could meet without knowing they are related genetically.

Many people would not donate parts of themselves if they were not motivated by money. There are infinitely more donors because they are paid, but there are pros and cons to the situation.

What do you think? Should donors be paid?

Would you or have you donated your fluids or eggs?

{ 15 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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15 Responses to “Pros and Cons of Making Money By Donating Your Bodily Fluids and Eggs”

  1. daenyll says:

    I donated plasma for a while in school, and have also done some blood donations to Red Cross

  2. Rob O. says:

    I’m a big proponent of blood donation and I usually do pheresis donation where they spin off the platelets and return the plasma to the donor. (Platelets are especially vital for patients undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplant and have weakened immune systems.) It only takes about 10-15 minutes longer than the normal blood donation method and is no more painful – really, the worst part is just sitting in those not-so-comfy donation chairs for an extra few boring minutes.

    I dunno if I could ever SELL fluids or such…

  3. I don’t think it hurts anyone by donating so I think it is up to the person. I personally wouldn’t donate sperm but if I needed to I’d donate plasma or blood if I got paid.

  4. javi says:

    As a person who have donated stem cells to a 5 yr old boy who had leukemia, yes there is some cons but the pros greatly outweigh. Ten years ago I signed up to be on the National Bone Marrow Donor Program. Three years ago I was told to the best match for the a child. I agreed to do the donation and did 5 days of Filgrastim shots to increase my stem cell production. I felt discomfort the last two days of the shots, but with medication provided by the program, I felt better. Whenever I felt discomfort, I always thought of the boy receiving my cells. He had to undergo two weeks of extreme chemotherapy to get ready for my cells. If the little boy can undergo two weeks plus of discomfort, I think I could undergo 2 or 3 days. Now the boy is fully healed and has a new lease on life.

    • Shirley says:

      javi, that was a wonderful thing to do and your attitude is superb!

    • Seth says:

      That’s great to hear you were able to help him. I signed up about 6 years ago, and haven’t heard a peep from them. I guess it’s hard to make a match, meaning it’s that much more important to jump on the opportunity to donate when they do find one.

  5. Ray says:

    I have no problem allowing people to sell plasma, blood, sperm , etc. It could quite possibly save a life and to me the payment is used to generate good will and encourage the healthy donor to further give.

  6. lostAnnfound says:

    I donate blood on a regular basis (either through Red Cross or one of the local hospitals). There is no cash payment for it, but usually a thank you type gift (travel mug, movie theater pass, etc.) that is sometimes donated by local businesses. I didn’t know you could actually get paid to donate your blood!

    • Tiffany says:

      I never heard of them paying someone to donate blood but plasma yes. You have to go through a screening process also.

  7. Jim M says:

    I donate blood occasionally to the red cross. I would never accept monetary compensation for this.

    My only concern about being a sperm donor is that (as stated in the article) my biological children may unwittingly meet and want to reproduce. From what I know, there are no safeguards in place to make sure this does not happen.

  8. New says:

    I recently went back to college after many years away and I never thought I’d consider donating my eggs, but now I am considering it to help couples have a child and to help pay back my student loans and tuition.

  9. NB says:

    Am I the only one that has had an awful experience trying to donate blood (unpaid)? I passed out, the volunteers didn’t notice – the poor guy donating next to me had to flag someone down, they used smelling salts to wake me back up (while still drawing blood the whole time), then they kicked me out of the “rest area” while I was still dizzy and I ended up stuck at the mall for a few hours, sicking in a bookstore, unable to drive myself home b/c of the dizziness. I want to be a good person, but I’m not going through that again 🙁

    That said, I have no problem with people being paid for donating parts of their body. Why shouldn’t they be compensated, especially for the more difficult, painful, or time-consuming procedures.

    • Seth says:

      It is rare, but sometimes people to get dizzy like that. Making sure to drink LOTS of water for a day or two prior really helps. EVERY blood donation group I have ever seen has always been very on top of things with watching for people getting dizzy/passing out. They always insist that you stay in the canteen area at least for a couple of minutes to make sure you don’t have a dizzy spell, and they are always more than happy for you to stay as long as necessary. I’m sorry that you had one bad experience with it, but I do hope you reconsider and give it one more shot. I hate for one bad collection group to give a bad reputation to the whole process.

    • Melissa says:

      I had that experience once when selling plasma. I made the mistake of going on an empty stomach, and they gave me something to eat after I passed out. It took about 15 minutes until I could walk without passing out after eating, but they were very on top of the situation. I guess they are used to it because it happens to people frequently.

  10. Hey, I just came across this blog and decided to read this post first because it looked interesting! The only thing I have ever donated was blood, and like other commenters I don’t think monetary compensation is needed for this type of donation. However, with more complicated procedures like through which people may feel sick or have to go to an actual hospital like you described, I think getting paid seems reasonable. Surely bone marrow or stem cells can help save lives, so I think this is a greatly selfless act. However, I myself would not even consider donating eggs or sperm to give birth to a child you have no connection to. Not only is it weird to know that you have offspring walking around out there with whom you’ll never have a relationship with, but like the man being contacted by 15 of his 74 children, what if they want a relationship with you?! How do you deal with that?

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