Egg donor expenses 'under review'

Embryos being placed on a CryoLeaf The maximum any donor can get in expenses is currently £250

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The body that regulates fertility treatment in the UK is considering increasing compensation for egg and sperm donors.

Women who donate eggs are currently paid expenses up to £250, but this could rise under moves to address egg and sperm shortages at IVF clinics.

Many fertility clinics have long waiting lists, driving some childless couples abroad.

No decision will be made until the end of a public consultation next year.

A spokesperson for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) told the BBC: "We will be looking at a number of issues related to donation policies, one of which will be compensation given to donors. We haven't decided on a figure."

The HFEA is holding a three-month public consultation into its donation policies, starting in January 2011.

It follows concern over the number of Britons travelling to countries such as Spain to receive IVF because of shortages of donated eggs and sperm in the UK.

In the UK, egg and sperm donors cannot be paid but can claim "reasonable expenses" for travel and loss of earnings.

This is limited to a maximum of £250 per cycle of egg donation or course of sperm donation.

Some fertility experts say this is too low to attract donors, and they should be paid more for their time and efforts.

Waiting list

Reports have suggested around £800 or more per cycle of egg donation but this has not been confirmed.

Susan Seenan of the support group, Infertility Network UK, which helps infertile couples, said it was right to look at all the policies surrounding egg and sperm donation.

She said: "We know that many patients are travelling abroad for treatment, often because of the severe lack of sperm and egg donors in the UK.

"Although many patients do receive a high standard care abroad, this is not ideal and the rules and regulations in other countries can be totally different from that in the UK."

She said patients deserved access to safe, regulated treatment in their own country, and there was a need to find some way of increasing the number of both sperm and egg donors in the UK.

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