After an extensive four month public discussion, The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA)* has decided to change the policies surrounding egg and sperm donation in the UK. Previously in the UK, donors were only to receive reimbursement for out of pocket expenses and loss of earning allowance were capped at £250. With a new recognition of the donor’s experience, payments for egg donors will increase to £750 per cycle of donation. There has also been an increase in payment for sperm donors—compensation of £35 per cycle. Chair of the HFEA, Professor Lisa Jardine, explained the new policies: “‘In looking at donation we have focused on what it means to people – to those born of assisted reproduction, to donors, to patients wanting desperately to have a baby and to the public in general. We are convinced that it is right to look at compensation not in terms of crude sums but in terms of the value of donation.’”
The HFEA says that they worked to keep the new levels of compensation low enough to keep away donors who are entirely financially motivated, while still recognizing the value of the donation and the goal to attract new donors. Professor Jardine hopes the new policy will “’balance the interests of all involved in the donation process.’”
The HFEA is also looking at other fertility practices, such as ‘egg sharing.’ Through egg sharing, intended parents receive free IVF (or other advantages, such as a higher ranking on a waitlist, ect.), in return for egg or sperm donation. The HFEA approved the practice of egg sharing, but plans to look more carefully at the practice and create clearer guidelines on the benefits that intended parents could receive for egg sharing.
Currently, many intended parents from the UK travel to other countries for fertility services in order avoid the long waitlist at home. Will increased payments for sperm and egg donations result in higher numbers of donors, and cause more intended parents stay in the UK for treatment? We will need to keep our eye on cross border reproductive care in the UK over the next year, in order to see the affects of these updated policies.
* “The HFEA is the independent regulator for IVF treatment and embryo research. Our role is to protect patients and the public interest, to drive improvement in the treatment and research sectors and to provide information to the public and policymakers about treatment and research.”