Britain’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has approved a trebling of the compensation given to women who donate eggs for in vitro fertilisation. Donors currently have their expenses paid and in addition receive up to £250 to cover lost earnings. Now the HFEA has decided to pay a one-off fee of £750 per course of egg retrieval. The fertility industry believes this will encourage more women to donate their eggs, but critics warn it may create financial incentives. Under EU rules a donor cannot be “paid”, however, they can be “compensated”.
The head of the HFEA, Prof Lisa Jardine said she believed the new arrangement was fair. “I find it very hard to see £750 as an inducement,” she said. “I see it as fair reflection of the effort, the time and the pain.”
Egg donation is an invasive process, which involves daily hormone injections, scans every couple of days, and day surgery to recover the eggs. Side-effects range from mood swings, bloating and pain, to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal condition.
The National Gamete Donation Trust, which helps couples seeking egg or sperm donors, welcomed the change. But Olivia Montuschi of the Donor Conception Network, a self-help network of donors and families of children conceived by egg or sperm donation, said she was deeply disappointed by the HFEA decision. “It will be something you will come to regret,” she said. “The perception will be that you are paying donors. £750 would make a huge difference to a young woman.”
Dr David King, Director of Human Genetics Alert, said it will create a financial incentive for women. “Ethically, it’s wrong to make part of the human body a commodity,” he said. “The body should not be part of commerce.” Josephine Quintavalle, of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said egg harvesting “is an invasive and dangerous process and women should not be induced with ever larger sums of money to incur such risks.”
BBC. October 19.
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