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Been there, sperm donated and got the t-shirt

26 April 2010
Appeared in BioNews 555

Should egg and sperm donors be rewarded with souvenir mugs and T-shirts? An independent think tank has launched a consultation to consider this and other wide-ranging ideas for increasing donations. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics will also canvass public and professional views on the consequences of allowing body tissues and organs to be openly sold and traded.

'There's a real demand for bodily material that's simply not being met. Demand significantly exceeds supply', said Dame Marilyn Strathern, professor of social anthropology at Cambridge University, who is leading the consultation working party.

Other ideas to be considered include: easing laws prohibiting the collection of eggs from dead people; helping recipients and donors to exchange thanks or tokens of appreciation; and improving technologies for saving organs and tissues from those who die outside hospital. According to Management in Practice, they will also look at 'presumed consent' systems, 'thank you' letters and certificates.

'Perhaps we should accept that we can only do so much to meet the ever increasing demand', said Professor Strathern in a Nuffield Council press release. 'We also need to think about the morality of pressing people to donate their bodily material. Offering payment or other incentives may encourage people to take risks or go against their beliefs in a way they would not have otherwise done'.

The consultation covers all donations - not just egg and sperm - including whole organs, blood, skin, corneas, bone and embryos from living and dead donors. It will also cover incentives for healthy people to enter clinical trials of new medicines. The Council's consultation period will run until 13 July and the working group's findings, including the results of the consultation, will be published as a report in the latter half of 2011.

British group asks how best to boost organ supply
Associated Press |  20 April 2010
Nuffield Council consults on organ donor payments
Management in Practice |  20 April 2010
Organ donors could be paid: consultation
Telegraph |  20 April 2010
Organ donors could get rewards
Guardian |  20 April 2010
Public to have say on organ donation incentives
BBC News |  20 April 2010
29 November 2010 - by Seil Collins 
The National Gamete Donation Trust (NGDT), together with fertility clinic Manchester Fertility Services, has launched an initiative to recruit sperm donors in the North-West of England....
18 October 2010 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
Two men convicted of providing sperm over the internet without a licence have escaped a custodial sentence...
21 June 2010 - by Professor Vardit Ravitsky 
The debate surrounding the rights and welfare of donor offspring has been gaining momentum over the past few years, and a growing number of countries have already banned anonymous sperm donation to ensure the right of offspring to access information about their donors...
14 June 2010 - by Professor Eric Blyth 
Unlike either oocyte or embryo donation, sperm donation presents a massive PR problem - masturbation. At least since Onan came to a sticky end, masturbation (aka 'self-abuse') has both suffered censure and has provided a fertile source for low-grade humour....
10 May 2010 - by Professor Dame Marilyn Strathern 
'Been there, sperm donated and got the t-shirt'. 'Be an organ donor, get a free funeral!' 'Hey mister, wanna buy a kidney?' These were just some of the UK and international headlines reporting on the launch last week of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics' consultation on donation of human bodily material for medical treatment and research...
12 April 2010 - by National Gamete Donation Trust 
The Trustees of the National Gamete Donation Trust were interested to read Dr John Parsons' article on introducing payment for altruistic egg donors. In principle we support egg sharing, but are concerned about the discrepancy between what is effectively payment in kind, and the reimbursement given to altruistic donors....
12 April 2010 - by London Bridge Fertility, Gynaecology and Genetics Centre 
The regulations governing the reimbursement of donors and the withdrawal of donor anonymity in the UK have combined to ensure that there are insufficient egg donors to meet requirements...
6 April 2010 - by Dr John Parsons 
The time has come to look again at offering proportionate payments to women without a fertility problem who donate eggs. Licensed clinics should stop using eggs from egg sharing arrangements and be banned from supporting links with overseas clinics that use anonymous donors...
29 March 2010 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
US ethical guidelines on compensation for egg donation are frequently being breached and student donors with higher-than-average SAT scores are being offered higher compensation for their eggs, according to a US study...
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