Yesterday, actress Sarah Jessica Parker and actor Matthew Broderick welcomed their new twin daughters, born via a surrogate. Those of us who follow celebrity news are wondering: Are they the biological parents, or did they use donors for the eggs and sperm? (Alas, we may never know.) But 40-something women like Parker, who's 44, often need to turn to egg donors to have a baby because their own eggs have aged beyond the point of viability.
If that's you, a new website called Donor Network Alliance launched this week to pair couples with potential egg donors. Similar to a multiple listing for real estate agencies, the site includes listings from 20 different egg donor agencies. Prospective parents enter their search preferences—hair color, eye color, education level, race, nationality, religion, location—and out pops a list of potential donors, with their profile photos and a way to contact the agency representing them. "We have about 1,000 donors on our site now and plan to download 2,000 more over the next few weeks," says Robin von Halle, cofounder of the site.
The four women who founded the site work for competing egg donor agencies based in Chicago, but von Halle says they see the alliance as a "win-win"; couples will now have many more donors to choose from, and the group of four will make money on the user fee, which runs $100 for two weeks of service. That's in addition to the fee couples pay agencies and donors, which ranges widely state to state from about $5,000 to $12,000. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine says the ethical limit for what women should charge for their eggs should be $10,000. Donors are reimbursed for the hassle and pain they incur injecting themselves with hormones, which enables multiple eggs to ripen in one cycle, and having their eggs surgically extracted. Several states now have laws covering the cost of infertility treatments, including egg donation.
Von Halle says she's heading to Amsterdam next week to publicize the site at a reproductive health meeting. It seems there's a shortage of egg donors in Europe, since the European Union doesn't allow women to charge for egg donation. Hence couples there often turn to U.S. donor agencies.