CHARLESTON COUNTY (WCSC) - Amy*, a 26-year-old law student, has donated eggs six times to women coping with infertility.
"I've thought about, you know, what if I'm walking down at the Battery and see a little girl and I'm kind of like, 'Hey, that kind of looks like me.'"
Six donations is the allowed maximum at the Southeastern Fertility Center, which has the only egg collection program in Charleston.
"It made it easier to get through some tight pinches with college and law school, but I wasn't out looking to make extra money and said, 'Well, how about I do egg donation,'" said Amy.
The Southeastern Fertility Center pays donors $3,500 each time they donate eggs.
Advertisements in newspapers and in women's bathrooms help spread the word and aim to attract non-smoking women between 20 to 31 years of age. Prospective egg donors fill out an extensive medical history questionnaire and must have a physical and mental evaluation.
"We want somebody who's comfortable doing it so the psychology is important," said Dr. Grant Patton of the Southeastern Fertility Center. "You need to be able to give the eggs and to be able to go on with your life."
If a woman makes it through the screening process, she appears on a list couples use to select a donor. It displays her physical characteristics, such as age, height and weight, but for privacy excludes her name and picture. Once a couple makes a decision the donor starts taking fertility drugs to produce eggs.
"I guess the easiest way to describe it, you can feel your ovaries," said Amy, describing her experience taking the medications.
After about a month, the donor heads for the operating room where she is sedated.
A doctor removes the eggs with a long, thin needle, they are then fertilized, and on the next day are placed inside the uterus of the women hoping to become pregnant.
If all goes according to plan, nine months later a baby will be born.
"It's nice to be able to give a family a chance that otherwise is kind of at their last step before adoption," said Amy.
*For privacy purposes the real name of the interviewee has been excluded.