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banner Monday, 22 April, 2002, 07:03 GMT 08:03 UK
Donor shortage

One in seven couples have difficulty conceiving - and 28,000 of those have IVF treatment every year.

However, only a quarter are funded by the NHS, the rest have to go to the private sector.

Click the video icon at the top right of this page to watch Sophie Raworth's report on the severe shortage of human eggs and the couples who by-pass our waiting lists by travelling to America.

On Breakfast we spoke to Sara Nathan from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. She said:

"It's wrong to put your body under that pressure for money..."

For a woman to undergo weeks of injections, it isn't comfortable...it is a wonderful gift...it would be wrong for money to enter the equation...if you're buying people's time, body it's bribery...egg donation waiting lists may be long but egg sharing isn't...it's not a good option for money to be the carrot to bring women forward, if that were the cast it would be unfortunate and would cause much unhappiness.

Breakfast also spoke to Mary Sidebotham, who has donated her own eggs and works as a midwife at St Mary's hospital in Manchester.

"In this country my egg is worth the same as any other woman's..."
I wouldn't do it for money...in this country my eggs are worth the same as any other woman's, donating eggs is rewarding... you have to go on an IVF programme, you also go through a counselling programme, you are well looked after...a lot of women don't know how to go about giving eggs...

(To watch the above interviews click on the video icon on the top right hand corner of this page)


In 2000 the government announced that it wanted to end the postcode lottery for IVF which meant that access to treatment on the NHS was largely determined by where you lived.

As egg donation is highly regulated in the UK, people can wait up to five years for a donor.

Subsequently, many, including Caroline and John, turn to the USA.

Sophie's report charts their story and Sophie asks whether the only answer to Britain's current egg shortage is to adopt a similar system to America. You can see the whole of Sophie's 4 by 4 report - Fertility Business - tonight on BBC One at seven thirty.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Sophie Raworth reports
Donor egg shortage
Sara Nathan and Mary Sidebotham
discuss egg donation
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See also:

31 Mar 99 | Medical notes
IVF
26 Jul 99 | Medical notes
Donating eggs and sperm
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