CHICAGO — Three egg-donor agencies in Illinois have joined forces to offer a first-in-the-nation guarantee for would-be parents: If a young woman who agrees to provide eggs to an infertile couple changes her mind, they can select another donor at any of the agencies for a relatively minimal fee.
The cooperative arrangement, launched last week, comes amid anecdotal reports that more women are inquiring about becoming paid egg donors in the current economic downturn. Even before the financial crisis, this niche of assisted reproduction was growing rapidly, fueled in part by older couples trying to have children.
Through the new Shared Donor program, the three agencies can offer such couples a wider array of potential donors, enhancing the prospect of a timely match. Nancy Block, president of The Center for Egg Options, said the agencies had been helping one another informally but recently "realized we should be doing this routinely."
Typically, if an egg donor doesn't pan out, a couple gets back most of the money promised to the young woman for her time and effort. Donor fees are about $7,000 in the Chicago area; usually, all but $1,500 will be returned.
But agencies don't offer refunds on their administrative fees, about $5,000 on average. For access to another agency's donor list, they previously would have had to pay a second time. The Shared Donor program eliminates the extra charge and substitutes a one-time $400 fee per family.
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