As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs

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

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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.