Chinese graduates offered up to US$11,800 to sell their eggs

Brains and beauty wanted: Illegal baby brokers lure young, good-looking and highly educated women with big cash for their eggs, but experts warn of health risks

Women students in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing are being offered up to 80,000 yuan (US$11,800) to sell their eggs through illicit brokers, despite a nationwide ban on the practice.

So-called surrogacy agencies pay between 30,000 to 80,000 yuan per donation, with “good looking”, well-educated women commanding the highest prices, Modern Express reported on Monday.

The newspaper said it contacted a broker, identified only as H, via an advertisement seen on notice boards in several universities in Nanjing, Jiangsu province.

Surrogacy activities, including the sale of human eggs, have been illegal in China since 2006, but a black market has been thriving since the government relaxed its family planning regulations at the end of 2015.

Many students have expressed an interest in selling their eggs, H was quoted as saying.

Once they decide to proceed, detailed information about the women – including their name, age, height, skin condition, blood group and general state of health – is entered into a database that can be viewed by potential buyers, the report said.

A second broker, identified only as C, was quoted by the newspaper as saying that “a woman can sell her eggs up to three times”, but “has to wait three to six months” between procedures.

However, Ling Xiufeng, an expert on reproductive health at Nanjing Maternal and the Child Care Service Centre, expressed doubts over the time frame suggested by C, saying that “harvesting” eggs too quickly could pose serious health risks.

“A woman can produce only one or two eggs a month. If she takes medication to help her produce more eggs it can lead to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome,” Ling was quoted as saying.

According to a report by Mayo Clinic, a medical research group based in Minnesota, United States, the syndrome can cause a woman’s ovaries to swell, which in turn can lead to rapid weight gain, abdominal pain, vomiting and shortness of breath.

Furthermore, if the procedure is not carried out with due care, “the woman’s internal organs can be badly affected, which could result in lifelong infertility”, Ling added.

A third broker quoted by Modern Express said that despite the high prices involved, for prospective parents, buying eggs from a donor is a relative low-cost option.

“A basic surrogacy package costs 400,000 yuan,” said the person, identified only as A.

“If the surrogate mother successfully delivers a baby, then the cost rises to 600,000 yuan. And if the baby is a boy, it increases to 900,000 yuan,” the broker said.

Many of the people seeking surrogacy services in China are those who have earlier lost their only child, A said.

China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission in 2006 issued a regulation stipulating that only surplus eggs from women undergoing IVF (in vitro fertilisation) treatment can be used for surrogacy purposes.

Under Chinese law, eggs from a single donor can be provided to a maximum of five married women. Single women are not eligible for such donations. – SCMP

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