Women who have donated eggs sought for national study

Over the last two decades, thousands of American women have donated eggs to help themselves or other women bear children. But little is known about what motivated these women to become egg donors and what, if any, physical and psychological effects resulted from their experience.

To answer these and other questions, University of Washington researchers have begun a national study and are looking for volunteers to participate in an on-line survey. To be eligible, women must have donated eggs prior to May of 2001.

"In this era of using technology to assist in reproduction, it is important to understand the consequences of this technology," said Nancy Kenney, a UW associate professor of psychology and women's studies who is directing the research.

"There have been many studies on the efficacy of reproduction using donated eggs and on the health of children born from this procedure, but women who donated eggs have been generally ignored. No one knows what has happened physically and emotionally to these women. It is important to understand their experience so that adjustments can be made to the assisted reproduction technology system if they are necessary," she said.

The researchers also are interested in learning how women cope with knowing or not knowing the outcome of their donation and what relationship, if any, these women feel to any children that may have resulted from their donation.

Kenney and Michelle McGowan, a UW doctoral student in women's studies who is working with Kenney, said that the little research that has looked at women's motivations to donate eggs has been conducted in Great Britain, Canada and Israel. However, unlike in the United States, payment for egg donation in those countries is not permitted. Payment is legal in the United States and women typically can earn $3,000 for donating eggs. Remuneration can go as high as $100,000 for meeting specific criteria set by a recipient. Since monetary compensation for

Contact: Joel Schwarz
University of Washington

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