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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 November, 2004, 12:47 GMT
Egg and sperm donor cash proposal
baby
Fertility clinics have a shortage of donors
Egg and sperm donors could be paid thousands of pounds in expenses under plans being considered.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is consulting on how to recompense donors in a bid to combat the shortage of donors.

Donors are paid 15 plus "reasonable expenses" but HFEA is proposing paying up to 1,000 expenses for eggs.

Expenses for sperm donations could amount to 50 but men can donate up to 50 times every six months.

HFEA chairman Suzi Leather said: "Unlike sperm donors, egg donation is a medically and surgically intrusive process. It can be painful and stressful and is not without risk."

She said many clinics and egg donors had urged the HFEA to consider allowing more compensation for egg donations in particular.

Shortages

She also said the shortages could get worse when donor anonymity is removed in April.

"Over 37,000 children have been born in the UK as a result of people donating sperm, eggs and embryos, but our research shows that clinics are struggling to find suitable, willing donors for their patients.

"The changes in the law present new challenges and pose new questions and it is extremely important that people make their views known, especially those already born from donor conception."

There is an inequity in the system of payment of expenses
Allan Pacey

If expenses, which are claimed for anything from taxi fares to extra childcare costs, did increase, it is likely the fertility treatment clinics would pass the costs on to couples.

Laura Spoelstra, chair of National Gamete Donation Trust, said: "'At present many donors lose out financially.

"Treating egg and sperm donors equivalently is unrealistic and unfair.

'Unjust'

"Although it varies from clinic to clinic, sperm donors could be paid 500 over a period of 12 months, whilst the egg donor still only gets 15 per donation.

"This is unjust, as sperm donation is time consuming but not invasive and relatively risk free.

"Egg donation is significantly more burdensome, physically highly invasive and has a small but immediate risk for the donor's health and possibly on her future reproductive prospects."

Professor Ian Craft, director of the London Gynaecology and Fertility Centre, told BBC Five Live he would be "reluctant" to see people receive more money but said it had to be considered.

Dr Allan Pacey, of the British Fertility Society, added: "There is an inequity in the system of payment of expenses.

"It is much more inconvenient for women."

But Julia Millington, political director of the ProLife Party, said what the HFEA was proposing was compensating donors for the inconvenience, which was more than simple expenses.

"Creating incentives for human gamete donation not only falls outside the remit of the HFEA but is against the law."

Pro-life charity Life said the proposals reduced "human life to a commodity that can be bought and sold - a bit like buying a new dress or car".

"It is not hard to imagine some women donating their eggs simply to raise money and may lead to the situation where highly educated, young professional women are able to charge higher rates because of the quality of their genes."


SEE ALSO:
Sperm donors to lose anonymity
21 Jan 04 |  Health
Should sperm donors remain anonymous?
21 Jan 04 |  Have Your Say


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