Addressing the research egg shortage


Stem cell scientists in growing numbers say their work is being hampered by restrictions on the financial compensation that can be offered to women who donate oocytes for research.

“Why would a woman take 40 injections and go through everything else involved in oocyte donation in exchange for bus fare?” Dr. Wood asked. “It’s wrong to ask women to go through this process and not pay.”

Limits on compensation are making it hard to find women willing to undergo the time-consuming, often painful process of egg donation, which involves taking a regimen of hormone shots to stimulate oocyte production for surgical retrieval, said Samuel H. Wood, MD, PhD, who is CEO of Stemagen, a private embryonic stem cell research firm in La Jolla, Calif.

The biggest complaints have come in California, where voters in 2004 approved $3 billion to fund stem cell research. California accounts for more than half of federal, state and private U.S. spending in this area, according to an August 2007 study by the Rockefeller Institute of Government and the Alden March Bioethics Institute’s Federalism and Bioethics Initiative.

The whole shebang.