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Donating Eggs Reveals True "Cost of Life"

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Sarasota Herald-Tribune
The Florida Channel
Justine Griffin

Reporter Justine Griffin recently wrote a series in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune about her experience selling her eggs to an infertile couple living thousands of miles away. She became an egg donor after seeing a childhood friend die young, and witnessing that girl's mother trying to conceive again.

Griffin tells WUSF it wasn't just the nausea, migraines, and high levels of hormones coursing through her body that makes her say she'd never do it again.

"As the medical process went on, I very clearly felt that I was no longer a person. I didn't feel like a patient, I felt more like a commodity," she says. "That these doctors - I wasn't paying them for these services, someone else was - and I was just a tool that they needed."

And then there's the issue of couples who are choosing what they want their child to look like. In her case, Griffin's "All-American Girl" look - blond, green eyes, tall with a college degree - can be lucrative.

"They're creating their own little Barbie Doll human," she says. " I noticed when I was filling out applications and looking at donor web sites that they would have kind of wanted ads - we need more Asian donors, or we need donors with this kind of look. It's very much driven by your physical appearance. And then you read about some women who have Ivy League degrees, go to Princeton or Harvard, and they're going to get paid $50,000 for their eggs."

You can read her three-part series "The Cost of Life"in the Herald-Tribune.

Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.