Black markets of female ova are being operated by agencies in Beijing. They target girl students from famous universities and pay tens of thousands of yuan, the Beijing News reported Monday.
More than 10 young girls, who are all from famous universities in Beijing, sat in a café.
Clients - most of whom are couples - sat not far away from the girls. They stared at each girl carefully. A woman client with an LV bag stepped forward to look carefully.
They could not talk directly, but through agents, who conveyed information on the girls' height, blood type, hobbies, etc.
This is a black market for ova and it's a tip of the iceberg in Beijing or the country.
Li Qing (not her real name), 20, a university student in Beijing, underwent an ovum "donation" operation in early 2010.
After physical examination, she was injected with medicine that speeds up the formation of ova, she said. "One needle per day for 8 consecutive days." She didn't feel any different except aches in her arms after each injection.
After that she had to undergo an operation to retrive the ova. It did not involve cutting. A tube was inserted into her vagina before an ovum was taken out and frozen immediately. Li said she felt uncomfortable during the operation; but after a few days she recovered. She got "nutrition fees" before the operation.
"I do not feel regret,"she said, but she said she would never let her friends or relatives know about it.
The ovum was fertilized with sperm outside her body through medical techniques before it was put into a female client or surrogate, said an anonymous staff member of the agency. "This is forbidden in regular hospitals and so it is often done in private or foreign hospitals," he added.
A document from an agency shows that ovum providers usually get 40,000 (S$8,096) to 80,000 yuan, hospitals 10,000 yuan and the agency 8,000 yuan.
But ovum providers actually get 5,000 yuan according to an investigation carried out by the Beijing News reporter.
The ovum removal operation is the same as that of a test tube baby and may trigger some complications or even death in the worst case, said Xue Qing, a doctor at Peking University Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital.
Ten percent of women suffer from infertility in China and most of them can be cured; therefore there's very little need of ovum donation, she said. Peking University First Hospital tried to build an ovum bank in 2004 but it was later closed because of a scarcity of ovum donors and immature technology, Xue explained.
Ovum donation is much more complicated than sperm donation and so is the preservation of ova. The key problem though is that very few will act as donors.
"Many women just can't accept it," she said.