Beijing: Schoolgirls in China are being offered large sums of money by organised gangs to donate eggs for infertile couples, a media report has said with experts warning that the procedure carries risks.
The sellers - some still in high school - were being paid tens of thousands of yuan for their eggs by agencies acting on behalf of infertile couples but were being misled about the risks of the drug therapy involved, the report said.
"The girls we target are all around 20-years-old, because that's the age when women's eggs are best," one agency representative told CCTV, the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post reported today.
Medical experts warned the procedure carried risks.
Retrieving the eggs required only drug therapy and minimally invasive surgery across about 20 days, agencies told the women.
They could earn between 30,000 (HK$37,910) and 100,000 yuan for a successful retrieval, depending on appearance and education level, CCTV said.
"For young women, a large dose might produce more than 20 eggs each time, which could enlarge her ovaries, and in some cases, it could cause bleeding or even necrosis, meaning she will become infertile."
The infertility rate among mainlanders of child-bearing age rose from 3 per cent two decades ago to between 12.5-15 per cent in 2009, according to a report by People's Daily last year.
More than 50 million people on the mainland have been diagnosed as infertile, it said.
Following the report, health experts have called for government regulation to halt the black market trade in women's eggs.
"Egg retrieval needs a certain dose of injections for ovarian stimulation before the operation, which could cause different levels of damage to the ovaries," said Dr Suen Sik-hung, a private obstetrician in Hong Kong.
Some agencies in Guangzhou were charging infertile couples up to 1.2 million yuan for a boy.
The package covers eggs, surrogacy services and abortions if the foetus is a girl, according to CCTV.
A Guangzhou-based agency said the minimum charge, if the sex of the baby was not specified, was about 400,000 yuan, (About USD 67000).
Ai Xiaoming, a professor of women's studies based in Guangdong, said a lack of regulation and medical information could lead young women to sell their eggs for money.
One woman undergoing the procedure told CCTV she was paying off credit card debt.
"It's nothing new as in today's China, the human body has become a commodity. It's impossible to ban the commercial surrogacy business as assisted reproduction technology has become part of our lives," Ai said.