TODAY   |  November 26, 2013

‘Egg agents’ recruit women to sell their eggs

A controversial industry is coming to light: “egg agents” who use advertising to find women to serve as egg donors. NBC’s Katy Tur talks to one young woman who says she’s making thousands.

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>> industry that is booming and causing controversy. women being recruited to sell their eggs. katie explains. good morning to you.

>> good morning, matt. this takes want ads to a whole new level. people that search out the ideal donor by simply placing ads for them. we caught up with one woman who says her genes are making her thousands while giving a future to some lucky family.

>> 28-year-old robin young with her green eyes and athletic beauty is surely many a man's dream woman but she's also many a parent's dream donor.

>> i find it flattering that people would want to use any genes and have a kid.

>> reporter: an egg agent as they call themselves are trying to make those parents dreams come true.

>> people who search high and low for women who have qualities other people would desire.

>> young awe struggling dancer and actress already donated her eggs three times. at 8 to $10,000 a pop her genes are high in demand and paying the bills. she first donated her eggs after seeing an ad in the back of a magazine looking for a green eyed italian beauty. while it may sound unconventional, seeking out the young and beautiful to donate eggs are not uncommon. shelly smith says she started her l.a. business two decades ago.

>> i think it's a normal, kind, giving thing that's much more accepted than when i started.

>> reporter: perspective donors like young auditioned with hopeful parents. there's background checks, health tests, and even sat scores and in some cases, face to face skype interviews. a casting call for the perfect gene.

>> i was so nervous. i kept smiling. but i wanted them to feel and know who i was.

>> reporter: the recommended guidelines say a woman should only donate six times. the long-term risks are minimal.

>> the hormones are potent and there are women that are sensitive but once the eggs are aspirated, the symptoms resolve quickly. but what about young's family, both present and future?

>> the reaction is not to do it and that i could hurt myself and what if you can't have kids. but they're not in my situation and living my life . i'm a very independent girl in new york city trying to make it happen.

>> reporter: robin has already started a new round of hormone therapy and she is going for her fourth donation next week. she says this time will be her last. matt.