Payment to egg donors in the US should be limited to $5000, according to a new report by the ethics committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). The committee also recommends that potential donors should be offered more counselling on the physical and psychological effects of donation, and that medical follow-up studies should be carried out on egg donors. The report was published in the latest issue of the journal Fertility and Sterility, and its findings were reported in the Lancet last week.
In the US, couples and agencies can recruit egg donors either directly, or as part of an 'egg-sharing' scheme. The report outlines ethical concerns with both types of egg donation. At present, there is no limit to the payment that can be offered to a women who undergoes egg retrieval solely to donate eggs. But the ASRM report recommends that payment should only 'reflect the time, inconvenience and physical demands' associated with egg donation. In egg sharing arrangements, a woman undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment is charged a lower fee in exchange for donating some of her eggs to another woman.
In the UK, payment to egg donors is limited to £15, although egg-sharing programmes do exist at some IVF clinics. 'Quite often, women donate because they feel a strong altruistic reason for doing so, and financial compensation is not on their mind at all' says Juliet Tizzard, of Progress Educational Trust. Michael Soules, president of ASRM, agrees that egg donors are not necessarily financially motivated. 'No-one is saying wow, this is an easy way to make money, let me do it again', he says.