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UK couple choose egg and sperm donor at US centre

22 February 2007
Appeared in BioNews 392

A British couple have paid £9000 for fertility treatment with donor egg and sperm at a controversial US centre, the Daily Mail reports. The Abraham Centre for Life, in Texas, allows patients to choose both an egg and sperm donor, based on their physical characteristics. The clinic has sparked debate over whether the service represents commodification of children, or a natural extension of existing fertility services.

The centre, run by Jennalee Ryan, recruits sperm and egg donors with college educations and no history of medical problems. Once the couple have chosen the donor gametes they require, the centre asks a fertility clinic to create the embryos, at a cost of $2,500 each. According to Robert George, a member of the President's Council on Bioethics, the centre raises 'a real question of commodification'. Marcy Darnovsky, of the US Center for Genetics and Society, says that the availability of the service means that 'we're headed down a slope towards eugenics, and we haven't figured out how to apply the brakes'.

However, Ms Ryan says that her service is particularly useful to couples where both are infertile, and that it is cheaper than undergoing IVF using the woman's own eggs. She claims that her method has about a 70 per cent pregnancy rate, compared with around 30 per cent when using IVF embryos created from couples with fertility problems. She also says that selecting donors on the basis of their personality and appearance is already commonplace for people using just an egg or sperm donor.

Ms Ryan says that the British couple's embryos will be created in the next two weeks and then they will be frozen. After having the embryos implanted, the couple, who wish to remain anonymous, will return home to have the baby. 'I probably have on my waiting list about ten women so far', she said, adding 'whenever there is this option British people are going to come here and I will assist them'. The centre has created 26 embryos so far, and two women have become pregnant.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Couple pay £9,000 to have first British web baby
The Daily Mail |  22 January 2007
'Embryo bank': new hope or too far?
Christian Science Monitor |  18 January 2007
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