Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) members approved every recommendation put to them by HFEA staff, concerning how much and what sort of compensation and benefits in kind sperm and egg donors should be permitted to receive for their donation, at a meeting on 19 October. The HFEA has decided that donors should be paid fixed sums, and that these sums should be £35 per clinic visit for sperm donors and £750 per cycle of donation for egg donors.
According to the HFEA, 'these figures are based broadly on comparators within the European Union, a sense of what time and lifestyle alterations donors are required to make and an acknowledgement of the communal and incredibly generous act people perform through the act of donation'. The figure of £35 per clinic visit for sperm donors is derived principally from 'the Danish system', and the figure of £750 per cycle of donation for egg donors is derived principally from 'the Spanish model'.
Furthermore, there will also be provision under the new regime for 'donors who incur excessive expenses to claim additional compensation' beyond the fixed sum. The example of 'excessive expenses' given by the HFEA was 'donors in rural areas', who 'may feasibly incur travel expenses which far exceed donors in urban areas'.
Professor Lisa Jardine, Chair of the HFEA, said: 'My Authority has set a level of compensation which will not deter those interested in donation but will retain donors already in the system, without attracting those who are merely financially motivated.'
Until now, the UK has had a system whereby sperm and egg donors could be compensated for loss of earnings up to a daily maximum of £61.28, but with an overall limit of £250 for each course or cycle of donation. Additionally, sperm and egg donors could receive 'reasonable' documented expenses. However, until now clinics have been specifically prohibited from paying standard fixed sums to donors.
Furthermore, until now compensation could only be given to donors for expenses incurred within the UK. The HFEA has now decided to make donors travelling from overseas eligible to receive the new fixed compensation sums. However, donors travelling from overseas will be ineligible for any additional claims of 'excessive expenses'.
The HFEA permits donors to receive benefits in kind for their donation, and has decided to continue to do so. There is no limit on the monetary value of such benefits in kind, which may include reduced or waived cost of or waiting time for fertility treatment. This means that the monetary value of benefits in kind may exceed substantially both the previous and the new maximum limits on donor compensation.
The HFEA says it will 'take a proactive approach' to donation, and has resolved to set up a new 'national strategy group to improve awareness, donor customer service and retention of donors'. These decisions are the outcome of the HFEA's recent consultation on sperm and egg donation, known as the Donation Review.