A Cypriot fertility clinic has closed down after questions about its involvement in selling human eggs. The clinic, situated in the village of Zygi, Southern Cyprus, dealt mostly with donors from Eastern Europe, AFP news agency reports.
According to AFP, three Ukrainian women allegedly sold their eggs to the clinic for €1,500 per egg. They alerted the police to the potential violation of Cypriot law, which permits only donors' expenses to be paid.
Cypriot officials have said the clinic is under investigation for not providing full data on the origins of its embryos and gametes. Health Ministry Inspector Pampos Charilaou said: 'Without traceability of the ovules [oocytes] and sperm, I could not, as an inspector, give permission to this clinic to continue with the procedures they were implementing. You have to understand that we need that sort of detail in order to safeguard the safety and health of the recipients'.
The Ministry stressed it was only responsible for checking eggs could be traced to their donors and egg trafficking was the responsibility of the police.
The clinic was closed in May this year and has been empty ever since. Its clients, many of whom are foreign, have demanded assistance from their embassies to find out what will happen to their embryos stored at the clinic. For now, all biological material is being stored at a state institution, said a lawyer representing some of the clinic's patients.
A gynaecologist, speaking anonymously to AFP, said Cyprus was ideal for 'fertility tourism' with people going there to avoid the strict fertility regulations in their own countries. The short waiting times, low costs and anonymity of donors all made Cyprus an ideal country for egg trafficking, he explained.
Jacques Testart, the research director at the INSERM medical institute in Paris, told reporters he is unsurprised by current events in Cyprus. 'There are rumours circulating about trafficking in Europe, although they are difficult to prove', he said.