Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Eggsploitation" at Cambridge

We have previously reported on the issue of fertility firms targeting women and paying them for egg donation a practice that has been tagged as "eggsploitation".

In what can only be described as a new attempt at “eggsploitation” in the UK the Daily Mail reported on May 13th that a fertility firm is targeting Cambridge University students seeking egg donation and offering £750 for their eggs.

The report says that thousands of Cambridge students have been targeted by the firm and that leaflets were stuck in their university pigeonholes, making an emotional plea to help a couple unable to have children. It said: ‘We are looking for a real-life angel to be our egg donor.’

The development according to the report appears to be a result of an increase in the amount of ‘compensation’ that can be given to donors, and may confirm fears of a rise in ‘egg brokers’ profiting from dealing in human lives.

The targeting of elite students also raises concerns about attempts to create ‘superbabies’.

Last night critics warned that young women are often unaware of the risks of egg donation, and a fertility expert said the firm’s tactics were ‘unacceptable’. Donors have to take drugs to stimulate egg production, and complications may cause death in rare cases.

At the beginning of the summer term two weeks ago, Cambridge students found the company’s leaflets stuffed in their pigeonholes, asking: ‘If you are compassionate, kind, healthy and between 18 and 35 years old, could you help us? We can imagine no greater gift than the chance to love a child.’

The flyers said the couple, themselves Cambridge graduates, were unable to have children because of ‘a rare genetic disorder that causes repeated miscarriages’.

The leaflets were produced by Altrui, an egg broking company based in Hawes, North Yorkshire. It was established two years ago by Alison Bagshawe, 56, a former NHS fertility counsellor, and her businessman husband, also 56.

They do not make clear Altrui is a profit-making company that charges desperate couples £1,300 to try to find them a donor.
Infertile couples also have to pay a donor’s ‘compensation’ of up to £750, giving them a total bill of more than £2,000 even before they are put in touch with a clinic that extracts the donated eggs for use in the would-be mother.

On the firm’s website, potential donors are told: ‘It is illegal to accept any payment for your egg donation in the UK. ‘Having said that, in order that you should not be out of pocket, compensation is permitted.

‘The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority recently reviewed the situation. In recognition of the inconvenience, commitment and time given by an egg donor in going through the donation process, they raised the maximum compensation to £750.This came into effect on April 1, 2012.’

The disastrous implications of the practice are set out  on the "Eggsploitation" website