As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs

Would you donate your eggs to a woman who has trouble conceiving? Despite misgivings, REANNE MACKENZIE thinks not.

As a twenty-year old, the last thing I want right now is a baby.

I’m terrified of getting pregnant. However, sometimes I do find myself getting broody: seeing babies makes me happy.  I love watching One Born Every Minute and bawling my eyes out at the euphoric moment when the baby finally arrives. I know that I want children, and glibly assume that I will be able to have them.

But what if I can’t? What if I start trying for a baby and I find out my eggs are no good, that I’m infertile? I don’t know what I would do. So, I have immense sympathy for infertile couples that rely on egg donations to help them conceive. That said, (and I know this is hypocritical) I probably wouldn’t donate my own eggs; at least not at this age.

The company Altrui who run a “truly personal egg donation service” have recently been leafleting in some colleges’ pigeon holes. There’s something about this that I find vaguely sinister. I looked up their website, and for all its talk of helping women, and believing in “integrity, honesty, determination and kindness,” it struck me as a bit of a sales pitch. It could have been a site offering bespoke holidays, the way it promised an egg donation “exclusively for you”.

Egg donation – too early to even consider?

As a student, I can see the advantages of egg donating: it may be voluntary, but there is compensation worth up to £750 (as of April this year), meaning that you could probably make some decent money out of it. However, egg donating shouldn’t be about any financial incentive, which is why I’m sceptical about the company targeting students.

Here at Cambridge, there’s enough to worry about without the thought that my offspring is gallivanting around somewhere. Because, let’s be honest, it would be my offspring. The website uses quite a nice analogy of eggs as seeds: they may be a biological imprint of the flower, but it is only with a certain gardener and certain conditions that they will bloom into a flower. It’s a pleasant enough metaphor, but I don’t buy it: the child will have your genes, and no matter how much you privilege nurture over nature, you cannot escape the fact that if you’re a bluebell, your seed isn’t going to suddenly grow into a poppy.

There are a whole range of moral dilemmas and potential problems: what if you could pay a premium for the eggs of someone beautiful? What if the baby is born with a defect? Will they blame the egg donor? Will they love the baby just the same? Will they want to give him/her back?  What if the baby is conceived with both an egg donor and a sperm donor? Technically that child will then have four parents!

I’m not sure twenty-something students are ready to deal with these ramifications. I know I certainly wouldn’t be.

  • nodders

    I think they target Cambridge students as they do Harvard medical one for semen, not to exploit your relative poverty as a student, but to offer the advantages of an offspring with higher IQ (nature over nurture) to the potential couple.

  • cambridge students

    premium price eggs

    • Coke Zero

      trade you a Coke Zero for some eggs

  • Russell Wilson

    I am the egg man.

    • The Walrus

      I am the Walrus.

    • P. Lope

      I am the blow job man

  • Realist

    You're almost as banal as this article.

  • newsflash

    this is pretty fucking obvious

  • Please

    never write for the student media again

  • Hormonal Haiku

    All I think about
    Is babies babies babies
    Please have my baby.

  • Chicken

    As a chicken, I do this all the time, and I'd love to know where I can get £750 for it!

  • Leonidas


  • Eggy

    Fried, scrambled or poached; so many possibilities!

    • yung humma

      Fried of fertilised

  • newt

    "However, egg donating shouldn’t be about any financial incentive"
    Why shouldn't it be?
    Why should a couple desperate to have children care whether the person whose egg they're using is altruistic or financially motivated? Students are simply the most fertile females above the age of 18
    This isn't really about you.

  • voice of reason

    A bigger concern is that the procedure for extracting the ovum is highly invasive and occasionally leads to serious complications or even death. Obviously, we all cross the road every day et cetera, but I still think the risk in this particular case is unjustified.

    And surely there is no need to be "terrified" of getting pregnant; whilst rape does happen in Cambridge, it is fairly rare. So unless you were to harbour a conspiracy theory about medics secretly doing IVF procedures on people whilst they are asleep, I think you can be certain that you will not get pregnant.

    • what about

      a split condom? Seems more likely than all of the above.

    • Other concerns

      Completely agree with the first paragraph. Not to mention the fairly brutal rounds of hormone pre-treatment (they make you so fertile, for 2 months you're barely allowed within 6 feet of semen, never mind actually having sex.) While the whole "my baby's frolicking around somewhere" is one argument, if it was as easy as whacking one out for £750 I think a lot more girls would have done it. It's not until I researched it that I realised just why they compensate you so much, so it would have been a more interesting argument had you considered the other downsides.

      As to the second paragraph, wtf?! Christian Union?

    • Pregnancy scare

      When the options are to drop out of university to have the baby or go through a stressful procedure you may regret the rest of your life, it not unjustified to be terrified of getting pregnant. Contraception is not idiot-proof.

      • common sense

        but there is a *completely* foolproof way of avoiding pregnancy…

        **not having intercourse**

        pretty straightforward, right? Unless, as "voice of reason" said, one were unfortunate enough to be raped…

        • Analogy

          Similarly, there is a *completely* foolproof way of avoiding diseases – live your life in a sterile plastic box.

          • common sense

            I think your Analogy is deliberately exaggerated. I live a very fulfilled life thank you very much, and guess what… I have never had intercourse. And I know others older than me (20 years) who have also managed just fine.

            • Hey now.

              You're welcome to carry on not having intercourse. Just know that there are others who decide they do, but also don't want to get pregnant. This does not make us wanton risk takers.

        • rarer sense

          but there is a *completely* foolproof way of avoiding pregnancy…

          It's called the implant.

          • Lawsuits

            If you're planning on a career in health care, you might find yourself embroiled in a few.

      • Anon

        abortion doesn't have to be a 'stressful procedure' that you may regret for the rest of your life. From personal experience, if it's the wrong time to have a child, it's actually a huge relief to know that you're not bringing it into the world. If it's the right decision, you won't regret it. As with pretty much everything. And the only thing that makes people regret it, from what I know, is the huge amount of guilt propaganda that encourages people to believe that they're essentially doing something horrendous and wrong.

        • INFANTICIDE!!!

          Anon's comment is so self-centred:

          who will stand up for the foetus's potential to be a human being, now that it has the full complement of DNA?

          no, it is all about me me me and my convenience.

          If you are not ready to have a child, do not have intercourse. Simple as that.

          • Tolerance please

            It's funny that you're taking the moral high ground when you're happy to come out and bully some poor person who's been brave enough to share their story.
            Do I really need to go down the "potential to be a human being" route with you? Technically, the eggs a woman discards every month has the potential to be half a human being.
            Biologically, intercourse is supposed to be fun, and it is fun. We are lucky enough to live in a time where there are contraceptive measures so that it is, by and large, safe to engage in intercourse and not get pregnant. If you don't want to that's fine, but don't go around accusing others of infanticide.

            • yeah laissez-faire

              Biologically, beating up someone you don't like is supposed to be fun, and it is fun. We are lucky enough to live in a time where there is the NHS so that it is, by and large, safe to engage in beating up people and not get killed. If you don't want to that's fine, but don't go around accusing others of GBH.

              • Oh dear

                If you think sex is like beating someone up, I really feel sorry for your (future?) partners.

        • unplanned pregnancy

          yes there is a lot of guilt propaganda, for a very good reason.

          My mother conceived whilst a PhD student (sadly, she never completed said qualification), so definitely at "the wrong time". It must have been very hard for her in my earliest years, yet I am mightily relieved that I was not murdered before birth.

          • Abortion isn'tmurder

            That's genuinely a lovely story. But please understand that there are people who are in terrible positions when they become pregnant, and they can't afford to raise the child, or they're not in good physical or emotional health. Abortion is not murder, and some children are born into terrible situations.

            • are you Dignitas?

              by that logic, it is alright to murder a child if their parents are in "terrible situations"? And how "terrible" does it have to be to qualify? Unemployed? Homeless? Terminally ill?

              • anon.

                That's a fairly blunt and flimsy argument. No, it's not all right to murder a living child, capable of supporting itself without dependency on the mother's body. Pregnancy, however, is a huge physical risk, even with the level of healthcare we have today. Going into labour can still kill – and even if it doesn't the potential for huge and terrifying complications are enormous. If you get pregnant when your body is still developing (and that pretty much happens until you're nineteen or so, or occasionally later) then becoming pregnant will have drastic consequences for your physical well-being.

                And if, for example, you get pregnant before you're emotionally and financially able to support a child, before you're independent enough to look after yourself as an adult, then how on earth are you supposed to be expected to look after another human being? Why is it so abhorrent to take the decision not to bring a child into life when you know it will suffer more for that decision?

                When it comes down to it, the demands made on the mother's body by the pregnancy are enormous, both physically and emotionally in terms of the hormones that go pounding through you. If, for whatever reason, you are pregnant without wishing to be, then it is a hugely invasive and distressing situation to find yourself in. In which case, why is abortion considered to be so hateful, when in so many cases it's a decision taken to ensure the best possible outcome for both the unwilling mother and the as-yet-unborn child.

  • Guest

    It is fair enough not to want to donate your eggs at this age – but the reasons given here are not convincing. The fact is you will not be the child's mother in any meaningful way – not only will you never have met each other and therefore cannot consider yourself kin, but genetic inheritance is much more complicated than has been previously understood and its heritability without epigenetic factors and environmental factors might not in itself play a big role.

    I think someone who donates their eggs can let their conscience rest that they have done a good thing and let someone who wants children have children. Don't bring ethical dilemmas into this. If you feel you are not mature enough, fine, no-one is judging you or forcing you.

    • What about when

      your child comes to find you aged 18, as it is perfectly entitled to do? You might not be its parent but it will still be genetically half you and possibly quite interested in who you are. I know if I was created from donor egg/sperm or adopted I'd want to know about my genetic family as well as the family of the people who brought me up.

      Despite not having anything to do with the child's upbringing, not everyone wants to walk around knowing that in under two decades they could be a child's "other family". Perhaps you're not responsible for that child but there'll still be a lot of emotional baggage that comes along during the rest of your life and its life.

      • voice of reason

        sure they are entitled to find out your identity upon attaining majority; but you have no *legal* obligation towards them whatsoever. nothing really stopping you from simply ignoring?

  • huh

    I would say that this is poorly argued, if you had actually made an argument…

  • umm

    "What if the baby is conceived with both an egg donor and a sperm donor? Technically that child will then have four parents!"


  • Alison

    Just for the record, the flyers were distributed not by Altrui directly, but by a real couple who need help from someone who would be prepared to be an egg donor for them. Our role is to help couples like them find a donor and act as a professional intermediary in the process to protect both sides. We have years of experience in fertility and we take great care to assess and prepare a potential donor fully without her feeling under any pressure to go on and donate. I am sorry if this comes across in any way ‘salesy’, as this is not our intention and we certainly do not encourage anyone to become an egg donor if they are in any way uncertain or doubtful about doing it.

    This couple would love a donor from Cambridge as they met there, have a strong affection for the university, and feel that any child would have this innate connection with them. You may not be aware of the huge difficulty that couples experience in asking for this sort of help and the only option that people in this position have is to get a third party (like us) to ask on their behalf. Please don’t let cynicism put you off completely. We have this couple who would like your help and what you have been reading is their personal request through us.

    • Altruism

      Yours is a for-profit organization yes? Your website isn't entirely clear. Would you mind telling us how much, on average, you charge for your services?

  • On another note

    your waps are cracking

    • jubblies

      she could have paid for them herself after about four egg donations…

  • Economist

    The university should ban these companies which come to collect the eggs of intelligent Cambridge graduates to sell it for a premium while they advertise it as a way of 'helping others'. Well, it certainly is a way of helping these greedy companies to make vast amounts of money selling your genes. Students are not at the stage of their lives when they can make these decisions. You don't want to live your life thinking that you have a daughter or son somewhere living with strangers who bought your most personal possession, your genes.

    If we really want to change the world for the better through eugenics we should at least set up a system which benefits ourselves the most. 750 pounds for Cambridge genes is way too low. I think we should organise ourselves and agree to a minimum of 20 000 pounds per eggs or sperm donation.

    • Lol

      No one needs to pay for sperm donation! Even in Cambridge, there are students quite happy to give it away for free.

    • Guest

      Give it a rest with the eugenics chat – everyone selects their mate on factors such as looks, intelligence, fitness….

    • ugh

      Stop acting like adults have no agency and aren't responsible for their choices you imperious, overbearing nanny.

  • Priorities

    More to the point am I the only person fuming at the recent inflated egg prices at Sainsburys. Basics eggs have almost doubled in price to 85p, UNBELIEVABLE!

  • More importantly

    In other news, £35 a go, twice a week, for sperm donation! You could pay most of your rent with that! Not to mention siring a Gengis-Khan like clan of half-you offspring, ready in just 18 years!

  • Flawed Analogies

    They would be your kids & a bluebell wouldn't be a poppy? Well… not really. Environmental factors play a much larger role than most think and really it's quite artificial to suggest that being from Cambridge will guarantee your offspring will be brighter (because let's face it, that's why they advertise here and not….elsewhere…). The reality is that the offspring would probably be of above average intelligence, but mostly because they would be given a good, relatively wealthy, environment which would be very focused on that child. If your 'child' was brought up in the ghetto with a family which has no care for children and they had to go to the worst comprehensive in the country then its less likely they would be like you.

    tl;dr: No, not quite, though a poppy will not grow up to be a bluebell its a flawed analogy, its more like how timber can be crafted into a table, a desk or anything else, it is still timber but it can be hugely different depending on the crafting.

    • bluebells&poppie

      Speaking of flawed analogies…

      • Flawed Analogies

        Read the article before downrating.

        "but I don’t buy it: the child will have your genes, and no matter how much you privilege nurture over nature, you cannot escape the fact that if you’re a bluebell, your seed isn’t going to suddenly grow into a poppy."

        I was using her example and noting that it was a flawed analogy.

      • Bugger

        I meant to thumb you down but accidentally clicked the wrong one.

        Take 2 off your score, and take a bonus off for not bothering to read the article.

  • Bounder

    i don't want a baby either

  • IWantHealthyBabies

    Women's ovaries seem to have a way of using the 'best' eggs first: the increase in genetic defects isn't due to age-related degeneration, it's due to the faulty ones being used last…
    I'd be interested to see what the effects of egg donation early in life are on the pattern of chromosomal abnormalities e.g. Down's syndrome in later life.
    Until I know this, I'm afraid I wouldn't donate until after I'd had all the kids I ever intended to have myself.

    • Umm, like, do you

      know anything about biology? The eggs are gonna keep popping out at a rate of one a month anyway, whether there's a tweezer-armed capitalist there to catch it or not. So if your ovary selection theory is true, your healthiest potential children would have gone when you were about 14 – bad luck.

      But with an argument that flawed, I'm not sure they ever had a great chance anyway.

      • FSH

        I sure do like to promote them follicles to mature and with enough exogenous application, cause a rate of much more than 1 a month to be produced!

        Also, it's not always one a month, even naturally, and it'd be pretty retarded to go through some 3 or 4 month process in order to get… 1 egg.

        Might want to check your facts before looking like a bit of a tool.

  • Hook line and sinker
    • Borefest

      Yes and the Tab helped them do the dirty work, most probably with a nice little wad of cash for the effort. Honestly sick of them fucking over students and lying just to get in the national press. A bit of integrity wouldn't go amiss.

  • thisisembarrassing

    no matter how much you privilege nurture over nature, you cannot escape the fact that if you’re a bluebell, your seed isn’t going to suddenly grow into a poppy.

  • Riddikulus

    "Would they love the baby just the same? Would they want to give it back?"


  • Surreal Dean Martin

    How do you like your eggs in the morning?


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