Sunday, July 11, 2010

Egg shortage in Britain

Desperate hunt for donor eggs forces couples to seek IVF abroad, the Telegraph reports.

"Waiting lists for fertility treatment involving donated eggs have risen in this country since laws were changed to prevent women from donating anonymously.

"Now research shows the national shortage is the main reason couples go abroad for fertility treatment, with almost half of British "fertility tourists" going to Spain, where anonymity is allowed, and donors receive generous compensation.

"The study for the Economic and Social Research Council found that women who left Britain for IVF treatment were most likely to do so in search of a donor eggs, after encountering long waits in this country. "...

"Almost half of the women went to Spain thanks to policies which pay women up to 1000 euros to donate eggs, while remaining anonymous.

"Next was the Czech Republic, which also allows anonymous donation, and more generous payments than this country, where clinics are only allowed to provide £250 to those who donate eggs.

"Others went to the United States, South Africa, Barbados, Russia and Ukraine."...

"Research collaborator Dr Allan Pacey, a fertility expert from Sheffield University, said the findings of the research suggested more should be done to encourage egg donation in this country, including more generous compensation payments for those who underwent the procedure.

"Since legislation was passed in 2004 ending donor anonymity, the number of egg donors fell for three years, only rising marginally in 2008, the last year for which figures are held, when 1,084 eggs were donated.

"Experts believe more than double that number of donations would be required to meet current demand.

"Dr Pacey said he believed the shortage of donors in Britain was more to do with the small amount of compensation women were given rather than the lack of anonymity.

"Egg donation is a pretty horrendous thing to go through, so I think you could easily argue that £250 [the limit set in Britain] is not sufficient," he said.

"Regulators are currently reviewing the rules they set in 2006 which set the current limits.

"Prof Lisa Jardine, the chairman of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, has said that a rise in payment levels could encourage more women to donate eggs, meaning fewer infertile women would feel forced to seek treatment abroad."

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