WAUKEGAN, Ill. (CN) – An infertile couple claims an unregistered surrogacy center was in cahoots with a woman who used an alias to donate her eggs more than a dozen times, in violation of industry guidelines. The couple says that when they demanded their money back from Angels in Waiting Surrogacy Center, its owner, Dianna Watschke, closed the company down and reopened under another name.
John and Kelli Conroy claim Watschke and Angels in Waiting, of Grayslake, Ill., failed to locate a suitable egg donor or reimburse them for a hefty retainer they paid after getting false information about the egg donor, “Kristin.”
They say Watschke induced them to pay money up front based on false information about “Kristin.” Based on information on the defendants’ Web site, the Conroys say, they contacted Watschke “to inquire about whether ‘Kristin’ was available and eligible to be a donor for the plaintiffs.”
They say Watschke falsely assured them she “would obtain ‘Kristin’s’ medical, psychological, pregnancy history and egg donation history to confirm that there was nothing to indicate ‘Kristin’ was unable to undertake the risks of the egg donation cycle.”
In their complaint in Lake County Court, the Conroys say they signed a retainer contract and informed Watschke that Kelli Conroy’s health insurance carrier would expire in December and a delay would cost them $15,000.
Watschke allegedly told the Conroys “that she had personally verified the dates of ‘Kristin’s’ stimulated oocyte cycle” and would “promptly” forward her medical records to the Conroys’ in vitro facilitator.
After a month delay, the Conroys say, Watschke submitted ‘Kristin’s’ information to the Reproductive Science Center in Lexington, Mass., which discovered that ‘Kristin’ had participated in “at least twelve (12) oocyte donation cycles” before the defendants listed her as an “eligible and available egg donor on their Web site.”
The Conroys say that according to American Society of Reproductive Medicine Guidelines, published in June 2008, which are widely accepted in the surrogacy industry, “the maximum number of stimulated oocyte donations from a single donor is six.”
They say Watschke refused to reimburse them, but dissolved her company in October 2008 and shut down its Web site, only to reopen under the name Midwest Surrogacy Center.
The Conroys seek damages for breach of contract, fraud and infliction of emotional distress. They are represented by Michelle Rozovics of Rozovics Law Firm.
A human donor can make $5,000 to $10,000 per cycle from donating her eggs.
The cycle typically includes hormone injections and an invasive medical procedure.
One fertility company, ConceiveAbilities, says compensation may be based upon the donor’s “location, number of previous donations and ethnic diversity.” The company “strongly advise(s) any egg donor not to apply if compensation is the sole motivation,” according to its Web site, www.conceiveabilities.com,
But in today’s rocky economy, “a growing number of young women are choosing a controversial and perhaps risky way to make money: donating their eggs to fertility clinics, in exchange for big bucks,” CBS reported in February.