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

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 [3]).  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! [4]). 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?