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Egg giving banned in UK

Dr. Kirsty Horsey

Progress Educational Trust

30 November 2003

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[BioNews, London] The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has banned clinics from offering 'egg giving' schemes. Egg giving is a type of egg donation where patients waiting for IVF treatment first undergo one cycle of egg retrieval in which all the eggs collected are donated to another patient. The woman then receives a second cycle at a reduced cost, keeping all the eggs for herself. This differs from 'egg sharing', a more commonly operated scheme, where half the eggs collected in one cycle are donated and the other half used by the patient, again in return for a reduction in the usual price of IVF.

In July 2003, the HFEA initiated a review of the practice of egg giving, which first hit the headlines in the UK in June when the London Fertility Centre introduced it. Professor Ian Craft, director of the centre, explained at the time that egg giving would increase the chances of both donor and recipient becoming pregnant, saying that this was because only a small number eggs released per cycle are likely to be viable.

At the time, critics called egg giving unethical and exploitative and an edition of the BBC's 'Panorama' programme questioned the use of the practice. The HFEA reviewed the scheme 'to establish under which conditions egg giving is a suitable practice and provide guidance to clinics to ensure patients' interests are protected'. It asked clinics offering egg giving schemes to send it details of their procedures.

Following the review, the HFEA has now written to all licensed clinics in the UK telling them not to practice egg giving. The authority says that the procedure 'exposes women unnecessarily to two treatment cycles with all the inherent medical risks'. Suzi Leather, chair of the HFEA, said 'the HFEA cannot allow clinics to offer a treatment where a woman, for no other reason than financial inducement, subjects herself to an unnecessary and possibly risky procedure'.

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 30 November 2003   Date Updated: 12 September 2004
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