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UK may allow payments for gamete donors

31 August 2010
Appeared in BioNews 573

Egg and sperm donors in the UK could receive increased compensation under new proposals aimed at reducing the number of couples travelling abroad for treatment. According to reports the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s (HFEA) new plans mean that women donating eggs could receive as much as £800.
Currently the HFEA has set a cap of £250 per cycle of egg donation or course of sperm donation. Donors cannot be paid directly, but can claim reasonable expenses for loss of earnings and travel. This payment level has been criticised for being too low and is believed to be the reason for egg and sperm shortages at fertility clinics.
An HFEA spokeswoman said: ‘We want to remove obstacles to donation...There  are waiting lists of various lengths for people wanting to get access to treatment with donor eggs or sperm. We want to see if our policies are contributing to an unnecessary delay.’
In the UK one in six couples has fertility problems, and it is hoped an increase in compensation will encourage donation, so that these couples do not feel forced to travel for fertility treatment to overseas clinics, which are often unregulated.
Susan Seenan of Infertility Network UK said it was right to question the payments: ‘Many patients are travelling abroad for treatment, often because of a severe lack of egg and sperm donors in the UK. Although many patients do receive a high standard of care abroad, this is not ideal.’
However, there are concerns that raising the level of payments could commercialise the harvesting of eggs and sperm.
Anthony Rutherford, a consultant at the NHS Leeds Centre for Reproductive Medicine and chairman of the British Fertility Society said: ‘Women who donate eggs have to undergo consultations, medical investigations, a course of injections and a small operation. That is a lot to go through and £250 is not enough. However, there is a principal to be struck. If you allow payments to get too high then the principle of donation is lost.’
The new proposals could also mean that donated sperm may be used to start as many as 20 families; the current limit has been set at ten. Critics of such a move have argued that it could increase the risk of step siblings unwittingly meeting, getting married and having children.
The HFEA will be holding a three-month consultation into its donation policies, beginning in January 2011.


Egg and sperm donors could get up to £800 in payments
The Daily Telegraph |  22 August 2010
Egg and sperm donors may get thousands of pounds in fertility plan
The Guardian |  22 August 2010
Egg donor expenses 'under review'
BBC News Online |  23 August 2010
21 October 2013 - by María Victoria Rivas Llanos 
More and more IVF patients are using donor eggs, according to a study carried out in the USA...
13 May 2013 - by Rivka Marks-Maran 
A Liverpool fertility clinic has been forced to import sperm from Manchester and London after a significant fall in local donations...
18 July 2011 - by Sandy Starr 
The UK's fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), has made its first set of decisions following the outcome of its recent consultation on sperm and egg donation, known as the Donation Review...
4 April 2011 - by Anthony Bagshawe 
In all the coverage of the recent debate about egg and sperm donation, there has been much said about whether or not egg donors should be paid. Arguments have been put forward on various points and counter claims made. However, in all this what seems to have been missed is that there are in fact two totally separate arguments which have become merged into one, namely payment and compensation...
7 March 2011 - by Alan Doran 
One of the things that makes working at the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) extremely worthwhile is we address topics that matter to many different people and groups. Unsurprisingly, there are many shades of opinion about the issues. Often, these views extend to passing judgement on our general competence and performance. The Government's proposals about the future of arm's-length bodies have added piquancy to this strand of public discussion...
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....
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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