The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 53.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

Scratch Paper

Eggs & Sperm

By Tiffany Kosolcharoen

associate features editor

One of the most constant sources of revenue for The Tech is the “egg and sperm wanted” ad. I can hear you laughing. Yes, there are people willing to pay you to create more of you!

“Up to $10,000 if you qualify!”

“Wanted: Intelligent, good-looking male of height 5’8” or more.”

“SAT scores of 1450 or above preferred.”

“Help our dream come true.”

When I first picked up a copy of The Tech as a freshman, I was astonished by how big these fertility ads were. They took up as much newspaper space as the SAT test prep and prom dress ads I sold for my high school newspaper. Yet, instead of encouraging us to spend, these fertility ads have the potential to pay for a needy student’s college tuition.

At first, I scoffed at the notion that anyone at all would read these ads. Wouldn’t it be ethically wrong to produce little yous who would run wild in the hands of a stranger?

If your “unknown” kid becomes a criminal 20 years down the row, wouldn’t their DNA point to yours? Or part of you? Reputations may even be ruined.

Then it hit me: there is a price to morality. Everyone has one. If we were financially broke and had no food or shelter, we would probably reconsider our egg and sperm insurance. If you were offered $1,000, maybe you wouldn’t resort to going against your ethics. But for a hundred grand? A million?

Men, the $1,000 per month that the sperm bank offers you could sum to $12,000 a year. It’s better than a part-time job! No brainpower needed, great return. Ladies, this is one of life’s exceptions where you can be paid more than the guys. I have seen ads offering up to $15,000 for eggs!

Just by you going to MIT, you’ve doubled or tripled your “value.” And what are the chances that a little you will grow up homeless when his parents paid $10,000 to select his SAT score, height, and ethnicity from a tried-and-true genetic pool? If a family believes your genes are worth reproducing, chances are they will put your offspring in a position to make an even greater contribution to society.

While we often laugh at the “gene wanted” ads, there are thousands of infertile couples who dream of kids as successful as you. Often, the Ivy League-educated couple may prefer your genes because your background is similar to theirs.

It is your personal decision to sell your genes. However, many of us overlook this “opportunity” completely. The “donor wanted” ads exist for a reason: there are peers among us who respond to them. Nobody will admit their offspring are walking the world, but the success of these fertility ads at top-notch colleges across America have proven the point.

Yet, our attitudes toward egg and sperm donations will change. The next generation of parents will be able to select their child’s sex. The boundary between genetic selection and selective sperm and egg donations are blurring. Perhaps someday, parents will be able to select their child’s height, eye color, looks, etc. from a simple, online form. If you were a parent, wouldn’t you want your kid to have that head start in life?

To donate or not? While many students in dire financial situations have faced this decision, I’ve been fortunate to not need to. Yet, we should be open-minded about those among us who do. You could pay off your loans and fulfill a couple’s dream at the same time.

If all else fails in life, at least MIT gives us a choice: the sperm or the streets.