A businesswoman has put her eggs up for sale on the internet to help repay her student loans.
Marje Khan posted her details on the classified ads website Gumtree and hopes a couple will pay her £4,500 for the donation. The 28-year-old accounts manager came up with the idea after reading in a magazine how much donors can earn.
She did not realise that in Britain it is illegal to be paid for donating eggs. The procedure can also be life-threatening for the woman and risks leaving her infertile.
But critics claim advertising eggs for sale is becoming more widespread despite the regulations, as the internet is too hard to regulate. They are concerned many are exploiting a loophole which states that egg donors are allowed to claim 'reasonable' expenses - but a reasonable amount is not stipulated in law.
Miss Khan, from South-West London, earns £40,000 a year but ran up her debts after studying for degrees in marketing and economics. She was born in Sweden and grew up in Stockholm. Her father was an interior designer father and her mother a teacher.
She came to Britain ten years ago to learn English and to study at Brunel University in West London. But although her parents helped pay some of her fees, after five years of studying she has £50,000 of student loans of pay off.
'I know some people won't agree with what I am doing but this seemed to be a good way of earning some money whilst at the same time helping a couple who otherwise wouldn't have a child,' she said.
'Whilst I earn a good salary, by the time I've paid my rent, food and the monthly loan repayments, there is hardly any money left. 'At some point in the future I might want to buy a house so it's become very important that I pay down this debt as soon as possible.'
Miss Khan said the price she is asking is fair and chose Gumtree - better known for finding domestic cleaners - because she had seen another woman advertising on it.
Until the Daily Mail pointed it out, she had no idea she was doing anything illegal.
'I placed my ad without any problem,' she said. 'So I am shocked to be told it is illegal to sell your eggs in the UK especially as it was clear from the magazine article many young women in the UK are doing the same thing.'
Eggs for sale: It is illegal to be paid for donating eggs in Britain Her ad, which was free to place, has been viewed around 50 times but so far she has not had an approach from a couple.
Miss Khan, who is single, admits she is nervous at the prospect of donating. The procedure involves daily injections of potent hormones for up to two weeks to stimulate her ovaries into producing a vast number of eggs. These are then harvested in an operation at a clinic.
'When I told my parents and my three sisters about my plans, they were horrified,' she said. 'They are worried that not only is egg donation a potentially risky procedure but that I will regret it later in life.'
But Miss Khan said she is confident that the risks are small. Nor is she worried about someone else raising her biological child - and insisted she would be happy for the child to contact her at the age of 18.
Josephine Quintavalle, of the pressure group Comment on Reproductive-Ethics, said: 'Most women and UK classified websites seem totally unaware that advertising eggs for sale in the UK is breaking the law, especially as in countries such as the U.S. selling eggs is legal.'
COULD RULES BE CHANGED?
Rules forbidding payment to women who donate eggs could be relaxed after criticism that the restrictions are unworkable and penalise donors.
At present women can be paid expenses, but many doctors believe the payments fail to reward them properly for the risk involved.
The fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, is reviewing its policy after conceding that a chronic shortage of eggs means many couples have to go abroad in their quest for a family.
Article: 4th May 2010 www.dailymail.co.uk
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