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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 October 2005, 23:58 GMT 00:58 UK
'Pay more' to sperm, egg donors
Image of a baby
Donors will be compensated for lost earnings
Sperm and egg donors should be compensated with more money from next year, the fertility watchdog has said.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority says donors should be paid up to 250 to compensate for lost income.

Currently donors are paid 15 plus "reasonable expenses", but a public consultation found many think this is too little and it will now be scrapped.

The HFEA recommendations, based on this feedback, aim to boost donor numbers which are still too low in the UK.

People should neither lose out or profit from donation
A spokesman from the HFEA

Research released by the HFEA shows sperm donors are now more likely to be family men in their 30s than the old stereotype of hard-up students.

They said this showed that donation was seen as an altruistic act to help others rather than a money-making scheme.

The 250 figure is lower than the 1,000 the HFEA first mooted for egg donors when it announced its consultation last November.

Opinions were sought on the European Union Tissue and Cells Directive which says all gamete (sperm and egg) donation should be voluntary and not for financial gain.

Member States, including the UK, are obliged to comply with this by April.

The HFEA and fertility charities generally agree with the principles, but they argue that altruistic donors should not be left "out of pocket".

Out of pocket

For example, donors may need to take time off work, losing earnings, and pay for child care and transport to and from the clinic.

The HFEA says donors should be compensated for loss of earnings, setting the same daily maximum as that paid to people who are asked to do jury service - 55.19.

It also says there should be an overall maximum of 250 for each cycle of egg donation or "course" of sperm donation, which typically involves visiting clinics over three to four months.

Donors may also receive benefits in kind, it says, meaning women who donate their eggs could still be entitled to discounted IVF treatment in return - called compensated egg sharing.

Full-time parents who want to donate will be treated differently from those who work. That's not fair
Laura Witjens, chairwoman of the National Gamete Donation Trust

An HFEA spokesman said the recommendations were aimed at making it as easy and straight forward as possible for people to come forward and donate.

He did not think the money would act as an incentive for donors to come forward for financial gain.

"People should neither lose out or profit from donation," he said.

Laura Witjens, chairwoman of the National Gamete Donation Trust, said: "We are glad the HFEA has listened to our arguments. The vast majority of donors, especially egg donors, are losing money.


"We are quite happy with the 250 amount. It is not enough for donors to disregard the risk to their health yet it recognises that donors do something very special and have loss of earnings."

However, she said: "Full-time parents who want to donate will be treated differently from those who work. Why link it to loss of earnings? That's not fair."

The Chairman of the British Medical Association Ethics Committee, Dr Michael Wilks, was concerned about the recommendations allowing centres to offer compensated egg sharing.

"We feel it places unacceptable pressures on women who cannot afford IVF treatment to donate their eggs.

"The offer of free or reduced price treatment, worth thousands of pounds, is a very large inducement which could affect the validity of the woman's consent."

The British Fertility Society welcomed all of the HFEA recommendations, including allowing imported donated eggs and sperm from abroad that also meet UK standards.

How the sperm donor profile has changed

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