Should we encourage more egg and sperm donors?

Posted by Patricia Wakeford on

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BBC Health reports on The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) who say people should feel the same about it as they do about altruistic, or living, organ donation.

Critics say egg donation is an invasive process, and women should be warned of the risks.

Infertility affects about one-in-six couples in the UK, and when other fertility treatments fail, they sometimes turn to egg or sperm donors for help. However, because of a shortage in donors in the UK, a number go abroad for treatment, sometimes to unregulated clinics.

"Donating eggs to another woman is the most extraordinary gift," said HFEA chairwoman Lisa Jardine. "It's important to make sure donors are really valued and looked after at clinics," said Laura Witjens of the National Gamete Donation Trust, which helps couples seeking egg or sperm donors.

The HFEA said it was going beyond its usual remit by bringing together a National Donation Strategy Group to look at how to raise awareness.

But critics argue "It's one thing to incur risks for your own fertility treatment," and "quite another to be exposed to those risks for the benefit of other mothers."

An interesting debate; I believe that as long as donors are fully aware of all risks they should be allowed to make up their own mind. I hope this will ensure that infertile couples can receive treatment in the UK rather than risking unregulated clinics abroad.

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About the Author

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Patricia is a Senior Associate, in our Clinical Negligence team, and is also a qualified midwife with many years of experience working in the NHS.

Patricia Wakeford
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