Egg donor money: Fertility clinic offers women $5000, female egg donation.#Female #egg #donation
Egg donor money: Fertility clinic offers women $5000
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A breakdown of the $5,000 figure paid to egg donors includes costs linked to consultations, counselling, transport to the hospital, time off work and follow-up visits. Photo: Craig Abraham
A nationwide chain of fertility clinics is offering $5000 to cover the expenses of egg donors, a first for Australia that some fear could act as an inducement.
Egg Donors Australia, an initiative of City Fertility Centre, is offering the amount to cover what are classified as reasonable expenses.
City Fertility Centre chief executive Adnan Catakovic said Egg Donors Australia had offered the $5000 since it opened in May 2014, and there had been about 300 inquiries that had led to six women completing the program.
The centre has clinics in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania, and the program uses a model in which women donate eggs anonymously, rather than being recruited by the eventual recipient.
Egg donation in Australia has to be altruistic and it is illegal for a woman to sell her eggs, but there is a provision in the legislation that covers for reasonable expenses incurred in the procedure, such as travel costs.
A breakdown of the $5000 figure provided to Fairfax Media showed it included costs associated with the procedure such as consultations and counselling, transport to the hospital, time off work for both the woman and her partner and follow up visits. “Potential adverse events” leading to two days off work or more are also included in the amount.
University of Adelaide fertility specialist Robert Norman said the current legislation was unclear in how it allowed payment to be couched in terms of reasonable expenses. “It should be transparent,” he said.
He said to the average person the $5000 might look more like an inducement than recompense for expenses, and that the amount could appear to exceed the costs involved.
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But Professor Norman said he was not opposed to local egg donors being paid or recompensed for their efforts, if it were legal, and if it meant women who wanted to become pregnant could safely do so in Australia without having to go overseas.
Although profiting from egg donation is illegal in Australia, in other countries, such as the US, donors can be paid as much as $20,000. Overseas eggs are now available in Australia, with Monash IVF having access to the US-based World Egg Bank.
There were 66 approvals to import donor eggs in Victoria in 2014, compared with eight the previous year. Over that same period 222 women donated eggs in Victoria, with all but six being recruited by the recipient.
The shortage of donors and increasing demand for eggs is also a factor in local women going overseas to have treatment at a fraction of the cost in Australia.
The questions of compensation and reimbursement of reasonable expenses feature in a review of national IVF ethics guidelines, with the National Health and Medical Research Council asking for submissions last year on the topic.
Dr Catakovic said the $5000 was not an inducement and if doctors got the impression a woman did not have altruistic reasons they would not allow her to go through with the procedure.
“If at any point a donor indicates there is any financial incentive, they are off the program,” he said. “We haven’t had that occur yet.”
He said most women did not go ahead with the process once they became aware of the personal, physical, emotional and time commitment involved.
Monash University Bioethics Associate Professor Justin Oakley said the amount appeared to be reasonable given the expenses involved but it could act as an inducement. He said it was difficult to set an ethically justifiable amount for such payments.
Dr Sonia Allan of Macquarie University said she was concerned about any fixed fee payment scheme for donor eggs, saying reimbursement of expenses had always been intended to be for expenses actually incurred on an individual basis. She said the donor child should also be considered, and knew of donor-conceived adults who felt commodified by the exchange of money for the eggs or sperm used in their conception.