May 21, 2024

UK examines payment for egg and sperm donors

Britain’s fertility watchdog has launched a public consultation on sperm and egg donation. The IVF industry in the UK is facing a crisis because donor anonymity will be lifted in April. Already 90% of clinics are reporting a shortage of donor eggs and 50% a shortage of donor sperm. One way forward is to pay donors for their efforts. Currently egg donors are paid 15 pounds plus “reasonable expenses”, but the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority wants them to be paid up to 1,000 pounds for their expenses. Expenses for sperm donors could amount to 50 pounds, but men can donate up to 50 times each year.

Predictably, responses to the HFEA’s proposals differed. Laura Riley, of the Progress Educational Trust, commented that a “pragmatic level of regulation” was needed to allow people to donate. “Patients can’t continue to rely on a handful of heroes,” she said. On the other side of the fence was Josephine Quintavalle, of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, who slammed the consultation as a smokescreen. “Concepts of human dignity and international prohibitions on the sale of human tissue are set aside as the mindless HFEA searches for new ways to promote donor conceptions,” she said.