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Thursday, July 9, 1998 Published at 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK


Asian couples take white donor eggs

This couple opted for a white donor egg

An Asian couple talk about the despair of infertility
Infertile Asian couples who are desperate for children are being offered white donor eggs because of a chronic shortage of Asian donors.

A survey by the BBC television programme 'East' found that 30 out of 50 licensed egg donation clinics in Britain were prepared to offer white European donor eggs to Asian couples.

The research also found that in the last two years 35 clinics had been approached by Asian couples, but only five had been able to find anonymous Asian donors.

One clinic had closed its lists to Asian couples because it found it impossible to find donors.

'Can't wait forever'

One Asian couple discovered they had a fertility problem shortly after their marriage. They decided to accept a white donor egg.

The wife said: "I would have preferred it if it was an Asian egg, but I was more than happy to go with this one because this is my only chance. For an Asian egg, I would have been waiting forever."

The couple have since had a child, but have decided not to tell it about its origins.

Another couple are considering using a white donor after waiting in vain for an Asian egg for the last two years. About 18 months after they were married, the wife was diagnosed as having stomach cancer and suffered premature menopause after lengthy and painful treatment.

The husband was shocked at the way his wife was treated by relatives and the local community.

He said: "They were initially supportive when she was ill, but later on when they came to know that she couldn't have children they would be making all kinds of unkind remarks.

"We don't look at the lottery numbers on a Saturday. We look at them on a Monday morning when we try to call up a conception unit to find out whether some donor has called in to give an egg."

Appeal for donors

[ image: Massoud Afnan: It's very tough for couples]
Massoud Afnan: It's very tough for couples
Mr Massoud Afnan, director of Assisted Conception at Birmingham Women's Hospital, appealed for more egg donors to come forward.

He said: "It is a real problem, and in fact in many ways we should be amazed that there are as many donors as there are that come forward, because women are doing what they are doing completely altruistically.

"One has to be realistic with the couples and some of them will wait and see what happens. Some of them will try very hard for six months to try and find a donor, and then if it doesn't work out they may give up at that point. It is tough, very tough for these couples."

Dr Farine Clarke, managing director of GP magazine, said: "I think there is an element of stigma to being infertile, and this is heightened in eastern and Asian communities. I think that doubles the pain of a problem like infertility."

Jane Denton, of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, said: "Donors from other races should not be used simply for social reasons, but if there is a difficulty in obtaining an appropriate donor it is acceptable to consider using a donor of another race."

There is no evidence that Asians suffer higher levels of infertility than other races.

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