For Mumbai homemaker Muskaan Palekar, 24, the decision was easy. “A friend assured me it was quick, didn’t hurt and had no side effects,” she said. So, for Rs 15,000, she sold her eggs at an infertility clinic a year ago.
The procedure — the tests, injection of hormones and extraction of 10-15 eggs through suction— took 45 days. “I couldn’t have earned that much even if I worked for eight hours a day for a month,” she says.
Today, Palekar eggs on other women to sell their eggs for Rs 20,000-50,000, depending on their qualifications and looks. “Most women who do this are lower middle class and jobless,” says Palekar.
With a boom in the infertility business — 50 clinics are added every year to the current 500 IVF clinics in the country — egg donation is on the rise among women aged 18-35. “Mothers are preferred because of proven fertility,” says Indian society of Assisted Reproduction President Manish Banker.
“One fifth of the donations are done for altruistic reasons,” says Dr Aniru-ddha Malpani, who runs an infertility clinic in Mumbai. Many couples prefer women with high IQ, says Delhi-based fertility expert Dr Shivani Sachdev Gour.
“It isn’t donation, it is sale,” said N.B. Sarojini of the NGO Sama. “Hormones are injected to increase ovulation and extraction is invasive. This could have implications such as cancer, strokes or clots that women are unaware of.”
Commercial egg donation is unregulated in India. The draft guidelines on Assisted Reproductive Technologies allow women to donate up to six times in their lifetime at intervals of three months. But every clinic makes its own rules, say doctors.