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Woman denied IVF because of wrong hair colour

19 July 2004
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 267

A British woman who was participating in an egg sharing scheme in order to help pay for the costs of her own IVF cycle has been told that her treatment has to be delayed because she has the wrong colour hair and eyes. When a woman agrees to egg sharing, half of the eggs collected in one of her cycles are donated to another woman, while half are used in her own treatment. This is usually in return for a reduction in the usual price of IVF.

Helen McCrave's fallopian tubes are blocked but she has healthy ovaries and is able to produce eggs. She and her husband have been trying to have a baby for four years, but two previous IVF treatments have not been successful. Each time, she had agreed to donate half of her eggs for other childless couples to have treatment, and was scheduled to have her next IVF cycle in October. But the private clinic treating her told her that other couples currently seeking treatment with them only wanted blonde-haired, blue-eyed egg donors, so her own treatment had to be postponed.

'They just told me they were cancelling my appointment because I had not got blonde hair and blue eyes', she said, adding 'when I asked them when I would be able to donate eggs, they couldn't tell me'. The clinic has tried to justify its actions, saying that it was following guidelines set by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which say that the genetic characteristics of gamete donors should be matched as closely as possible to the recipients. 'It should not be up to the recipients to call the shots', said Mrs McCrave, who has now gone to another clinic to continue treatment, adding 'I am not waiting for eggs, I'm just trying to help someone else'. 'They say they are talking about guidelines', she continued, adding 'we're not talking about guidelines, we're talking about children. We're not trying to create a super race here, we're just trying to have children'. Kenny, her husband, said of the clinic's decision: 'It's the sort of thing the Nazis would have done - try to create a master race of blue-eyed blondes'.

IVF help 'only if you are a blonde'
The Evening Standard |  15 July 2004
Refused IVF because of my hair colour
Plymouth Evening Herald |  14 July 2004
Want to donate your eggs for IVF? Sorry, you need to be blue-eyed and blonde
Daily Mail |  15 July 2004
20 June 2011 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A protein active in immature pigment-producing skin cells could be responsible for hair colouring, according to US scientists. The findings about melanocyte stem cells (MSCs) may explain why hair turns grey and could provide insight into melanocyte-related diseases, such as melanoma...
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