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How desperate women around the world are risking their lives to feed a booming - and deeply disturbing - trade in donor eggs.
Somewhere in the world, Nastya Kanatova has three children. She doesn’t know if they’re boys or girls, she has no idea if they have her blue eyes and button nose — and she never will. Five years ago, the Russian was so poverty stricken that she cashed in on the one commodity she had left of any real value — her fertility.
Two experts have indicated their support for paying sperm and egg donors more money. Two panelists in a debate last Wednesday, organised by the Progress Educational Trust in partnership with the Royal Society of Medicine, on the ethics of egg donation and payment said in the press they want to raise the maximum payment above today's £250 per cycle.
Yes, there are shortages and the system is expensive. But fees would not fix it, says Francoise Shenfield
Simon Jenkins argues for market criteria to be applied to egg donation (In the name of purity, public funds are wasted on the rich, 25 August). Britain's regulator in this field, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, will soon rule on the issue of compensation to egg donors.
Currently the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA) imposes a £250 cap on payments so as to avoid commercialising the procedure.
But the low payment is thought to be behind a shortage in egg and sperm donation which is driving infertile women and men to overseas – often unregulated – clinics, according to research.
Now the HFEA is considering adopting the Spanish system which would see the payment cap lifted to £800.
"We want to review egg donation," Professor Lisa Jardine, the chair of the HFEA told the Sunday Times.
US ethical guidelines on compensation for egg donation are frequently being breached and student donors with higher-than-average SAT scores are being offered higher compensation for their eggs, according to a US study.