Selling body parts: lucrative and life changing

MINNEAPOLIS - Inside a nondescript building in Roseville, life is frozen in a series of cryogenic tanks. Inside the tanks sit thousands of vials of sperm.

"It would probably be easier to get into an ivy league school than it would be to get into the donor program," says Amy Erickson-Hagan with Cryogenic Laboratories.

To qualify, men must be between the ages of 18 and 39 (most are in their 20s). They are put through blood tests, background checks and genetic testing to make sure their sperm qualifies.

If they make it past the rigorous process, the payoff can be rewarding. "Typically the men receive about $4,000 for a six month commitment," says Erickson-Hagan.

Women's eggs can get the same amount for just one cycle although the process is a bit more invasive.

"I looked at this process as kind of a win, win," says Amberly Hoyer.

She donated her eggs four times and used the $16,000 to start her own chiropractic business in Uptown.

"I didn't need to take out a small business loan. I was about to purchase the practice and jump right in."

So we know you can get about $4,000 for your sperm and eggs, but what else can you sell?

Plasma donating can net you about $35 a visit.

Hair can also be sold. Websites allow people to auction off their hair to wig makers and others. Some are asking up to $1,000 for a pristine ponytail.

But when it comes to selling your body, there are limits.

"We've drawn this dividing line in the Unites States that says if you pay for it, there's something that's wrong with that," says University of Minnesota professor Michele Goodwin.

That's one reason Goodwin says selling organs has been illegal since 1984. She's written about the huge black market this has spawned.

"I find it absolutely ironic that we have such a successful system that involves money exchanges in that domain where it's so intimate, the creating of human life, but we don't allow that same kind of process to take place for human organs," says Goodwin.

She believes the U.S. should reconsider old laws to potentially allow the sale of organs like kidneys, which people only need one of to survive. It would remove thousands from painful and expensive dialysis while also saving lives.

Back at Uptown Chiro, the chance for Hoyer to sell her eggs was life changing and not just for her.

"You are helping us create a family I dreamed about as a little girl," Hoyer reads from a letter she received.

It's one of four letters from the families who's lives she has changed forever. "This is the true purpose and the reason," says Hoyer.


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