It appears likely that the HFEA will endorse payment for human egg collection specifically for research purposes, following their September 2006 consultation, ‘Donating eggs for research: safeguarding donors’. The sum proposed is £250, significantly less than the value in kind available with the cut-price IVF scheme for sharing which the HFEA has already licensed.
‘Safeguarding donors should be the only objective of the HFEA,’ said Josephine Quintavalle, Director of CORE. ‘It is not their role to facilitate the tissue requirements of the research lobby. The authority’s enthusiasm for hypothetical stem cell research seems to have blinded them to their duty to the welfare of women.
‘Risks associated with egg harvesting are widely acknowledged, particularly those associated with ovarian hyperstimulation. The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists suggests that 33% of IVF cycles are affected in some way, with 3-8% of patients showing moderate to severe reactions. Severe manifestations include a tendency to develop thrombosis, renal and liver dysfunction and acute respiratory distress (ARDS) causing serious morbidity. And there are of course risks of pelvic infection and organ puncture during egg retrieval.
‘The thrombosis risks are particularly alarming. A recent literature search conducted by a leading haematology team in Padua, Italy, reveals a horrifying series of serious consequences, from death to limb amputation and pregnancy loss, as a result of arterial thrombosis following ovarian stimulation. Significantly the majority of the sufferers were young women without any associated disease – exactly the profile of the women who would be targeted for egg ‘donation’.
‘Many argue that good medical practice should never expose women to the kinds of risks involved in egg harvesting, and that new less invasive IVF protocols should be followed. These ethical concerns become particularly significant when the procedure is undertaken not for the patients’ own benefit.
‘£250??? The real price here is women’s health, and its value is incalculable. We can see no justification whatsoever for this proposal.’
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