Sunday, 23 October 2011

egg donation - or is it now egg selling?

This week the human fertilisation and embryology authority (HFEA)
announced that it is considering tripling payments to women who donate
their eggs.

Currently egg donors are paid approximately £250 for their donation,
but it is hoped that increasing payments might encourage more women to
come forward.

For me this raises huge questions as to whether we are turning
potential children into commodities.

Egg donation is considered to be a selfless and altruistic act,
entered into by women who want to be able to give an infertile couple
the chance of having a child. The current payment is considered
enough to cover costs such as travel costs. But if this sum is
increased then surely it becomes questionable as to whether it is in
fact a donation or whether women are in fact then selling their eggs.

There are many countries where women are paid for their eggs, and this is seen as controversial because many of these women are poor and this is their only means of making some money.  Therefore it is not unreasonable to suggest that many of these women are exploited by the fertility clinics, who pay them a small amount of money for their eggs while taking vast sums from the desperate couples who travel there in order to receive fertility treatments. 

Fertility treatments are strictly regulated in the UK, and so it is hoped that if payments to egg donors were increased this too would be regulated in order to ensure that women were adequately counselled in order that they were fully aware of the risks of the treatments plus the potential long term implications. 

In the UK donors are not given anonymity, therefore if you choose to donate your eggs or sperm there is a chance that any resulting biological child would be entitled to contact you in the future should they wish to do so.  This step has, in fact, been seen as a huge contributing factor towards the drop in egg/sperm donors over the past few years. 

Egg donation is invasive and is not without risk.  Therefore generally women who choose to go through the process do so because they want to give an infertile couple the chance to have a baby.  I can’t help thinking that increasing the payments received will lead others to decide to go for egg donation for purely financial reasons.  People should donate their eggs because they want to donate their eggs, not because they want the money. 

The fertility industry is now a multi million pound industry.  Without donor eggs, many hundreds of couples go abroad and receive their treatments there.  Perhaps I am cynical in wondering whether a small payment made to women to sell their eggs is seen as a boost to an already thriving industry, and that women will be more likely to spend their money in the UK rather than going abroad for treatment.


  1. I would happily donate my eggs if I were allowed, but can't. I have always been happy to do this but I have to admit that if I were hesitating the £750 would probably help.

    Someone who is unsure of accepting so much money could always donate it to charity.

  2. I always keep on thinking about the questions that you have mentioned at the top of your blog. These are really nice.