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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 December 2004, 18:24 GMT
Egg donation 'surges' in Romania
By Gill Higgins
BBC Health Correspondent

Romanian woman
Many Romanian women are happy to donate
Women in Romania are increasingly deciding to donate their eggs to infertile couples.

The country still has a relatively poor standard of living, and women can earn 150, a month's wages, if they donate.

One clinic in Bucharest has as many donors as all the clinics in Britain put together.

This means that infertile women from abroad, including 10 a month from the UK, go to Romania for the treatment each month.

I would much rather it could happen in the UK in a timescale that was appropriate for me - but that's not going to happen
Mary, an infertile woman in her 40s
Mihaela Simbotin is a student who also has a part-time job to help pay her rent.

She says she wants to donate her eggs - but not for the money.

"I would feel awful if I couldn't have kids, and I would want to.

"And there are a lot of couples who don't have this opportunity.

"If I can do something to help them, why shouldn't I?"

Ethics

Women who donate eggs have to undergo hormone treatment and have their eggs surgically removed.

If women from the UK who want to receive a donor egg rely on the service in their own country, they could be waiting up to seven years.

Mary, who is in her 40s, has had problems conceiving and thinks a Romanian egg donor is her best option.

Romania
Romania is still a relatively poor country
She said: "I would much rather it could happen in the UK, in a timescale that was appropriate for me. But that's not going to happen at the moment."

But there are concerns that the high fee paid to women in Romania may lead to exploitation of women for their eggs.

Dr Stephen Wilkinson, an ethics specialist at Keele University, said: "It's such a difficult area of ethics. One the one hand, people are benefiting from the money. But on the other, we do have this residual concern about exploitation and about inducing women to do something that's not in their best interests."

The UK is considering introducing a fee of 1,000 for women who donate eggs, because 90% of clinics cannot currently meet demand.

But if the shortage continues, it may mean that women continue to travel to clinics in Romania for their treatment.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
A Romanian woman explains why she donates eggs



SEE ALSO:
Human eggs for sale on internet
24 Feb 04 |  Health
Ban imposed on IVF 'egg giving'
29 Nov 03 |  Health


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