Retail is sluggish; real estate prices are down; but the market for Jewish eggs seems not to be suffering — even though it costs the couples receiving them between $40,000 and $50,000.
In New York, payment to the women who “donate” their eggs is between $5,000–$8,000; the rest of the money goes to pay medical expenses — and $4,000–$6,000 to the agency that makes the match would-be parents–donor match.
The economy has made a slight impact on their work, say two women who make those matches: “We had two three weeks I could really feel a difference but it’s really picked up again, in an intense way,” says Ruth Tavor, who with her husband co-owns a New York City company, NY LifeSpring, which finds mostly Israeli egg donors for their international Jewish clientele. Egg donors can have their eggs harvested up to six times, and many Israelis return again and again to donate. A Forward article from last year explores the phenomenon in greater detail here.
Judy Weiss advertises for donors around the country on Craigslist and in local papers. Her company, A Jewish Blessing has been in business for about four years, with offices in Sonoma County, Calif., in Jacksonville, Fla., and in Israel. The economy “has affected specific families whom I am working with,” she says. “In one case the husband lost his job and the family had no choice but to place their dream of a child through egg donation on hold.”
Even when an infertile couple finds an egg donor and puts down the money, there is no guarantee that a baby will result. The donor is paid for the successful retrieval of her eggs, not after a pregnancy and birth result. “Perhaps for any family out there looking at such a large ‘investment’ with no true security that the outcome will be positive it is a little daunting to undertake when the news is constantly full of doom and gloom about the economy,” Weiss says.
Outside of these private matching agencies, couples offer far higher amounts to potential egg donors. One current ad, posted on Craigslist in multiple cities around the country, offers $20,000,while the ads looking for eggs from young woman from larger ethnic groups offer as little as $4,500.
Why are Jewish eggs worth so much more?
Because there’s definite demand and less availability than in many other groups, say the experts. Jewish women, like other well-educated women in America tend to defer marriage and pregnancy. By the time they’re ready, their own eggs may not be. And Jews, like others, want as close a genetic match as possible in their donated eggs.
“Everyone I’ve ever worked with, Irish, Italian and Africans from Africa, people always ask for a donor who comes from their background. The Jewish families are not really unique in that,” says Weiss.
What’s more, few American Jewish women seem to be eager to sell their eggs.
“Young Jewish woman don’t run around trying to donate their eggs but they are incredibly generous when they know there’s a Jewish family in need,” Weiss says.