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A controversial lottery, offering £25,000 worth of IVF treatment as a prize, has been given the go ahead. The Gambling Commission has licensed To Hatch, a UK charity offering fertility advice, to sell tickets to win the fertility treatment in a monthly draw.
The creator of To Hatch, Camille Strachan said: 'We will offer struggling couples a completely tailor made service. We hope the To Hatch Lottery can ease the burden on the NHS and reduce the stress slightly on some of those who are struggling'.
Both the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the British Fertility Society (BFS) have issued statements outlining their concerns over the proposed lottery.
'The British Fertility Society is very troubled by the announcement that the charity To Hatch is about to launch an IVF lottery. Although access to effective fertility treatment on the NHS remains patchy, and expensive for those who take the private route, we cannot condone this kind of activity', said Alison McTavish, secretary of the BFS. 'A competition like this, where only the lucky few will be given the chance to start a family, mirrors the 'postcode lottery' of IVF provision on the NHS and is equally unfair'.
The HFEA said in its statement: 'The HFEA is strongly of the view that using IVF as 'prize' in a lottery is wrong and entirely inappropriate. To do so runs counter to the ethos that underpins our regulatory system and clinical practice. It trivialises what is for many people a central part of their lives'.
The lottery will begin on 30 July, with tickets costing £20 a time and the prize open to anyone – not just couples. Single, gay and elderly players won't be excluded from taking part, and if IVF treatment is not a suitable option, it has been suggested that the winner will be offered alternative treatments such as sperm donors, egg donors or surrogacy.
Winners will receive IVF treatment in a choice of one of five top fertility clinics as well as accommodation and other expenses incurred as part of the treatment.