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Stalled Economy Fertile Ground for Baby Business

by Laura Crimaldi,  Boston Herald,  Jan 25, 2008
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Bay State agencies see rise in numbers of applicants

As the worsening economy drains bank accounts and zaps jobs, the number of people willing to offer their eggs or sperm for cash to infertile couples desperate for a child is swelling in the Bay State, donor agencies said.

“We’re seeing more donor applications because people are looking at more creative ways to get money,” said attorney Sanford M. Benardo, founder and president of Northeast Assisted Fertility Group in Boston and New York.

Benardo said the egg donation and surrogacy agency has seen applications from potential egg donors double from 50 applications to 100 applications weekly in recent months. The agency pays female donors a flat rate of $10,000 after a woman’s eggs are retrieved.

As the worsening economy drains bank accounts and zaps jobs, the number of people willing to offer their eggs or sperm for cash to infertile couples desperate for a child is swelling in the Bay State, donor agencies said.

“We’re seeing more donor applications because people are looking at more creative ways to get money,” said attorney Sanford M. Benardo, founder and president of Northeast Assisted Fertility Group in Boston and New York.

Benardo said the egg donation and surrogacy agency has seen applications from potential egg donors double from 50 applications to 100 applications weekly in recent months. The agency pays female donors a flat rate of $10,000 after a woman’s eggs are retrieved.

The sperm donor screening process requires men be at least 5 feet 9 inches, 18 to 38 years old, live near the sperm bank, have a college degree or be enrolled in a four-year university, be in good health, be free of sexual diseases, have a high sperm yield and submit a family medical history.

Brown said for every 1,000 applicants, nine men are accepted. Once accepted, men agree to make one to three deposits weekly for a year to 18 months. The compensation rate is $100 for every acceptable donation. “There is a financial incentive, but you have to have an altruistic side,” Brown said.

As far as recipient families go, there is some evidence that the economy is straining couples’ ability to get the infertility treatments, even in Massachusetts, where insurance companies cover the medical costs for qualified patients

Demma said some families have needed more time to come up with the necessary funds to pay out-of-pocket costs that can range from $12,000 to $15,000 per cycle even with insurance coverage.

“We are seeing clients who are slower to come forward with the funds. We are doing everything we can to work with them,” said Demma. “We are seeing a slowdown in demand for donors. I guess folks are having a hard time.”

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