Right of Reply: Ian Craft

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On Saturday, Cherry Norton reported on the warning given to fertility clinics about `egg-sharing'. Now, the director of the London Gynaecology and Fertility Centre responds

CHERRY NORTON'S article on the change of heart of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) on egg-sharing fails to point out that it is morally wrong to ask infertile women to give up some of their precious potential for the benefit of others, because of limited NHS facilities.

I believe that these women have a right to know what happens to the use of their eggs, and that such knowledge could cause profound regret.

The HFEA really surprised me last year when they gave their seal of approval to the controversial scheme promoted by the Cromwell Hospital - that infertile women be allowed to receive free IVF in a private hospital, provided they gave up half of their eggs to other, richer, women who could pay, in a sort of "Robin Hood" scheme in reverse.

The HFEA should consider radical initiatives, using fertile volunteers, if we are to ensure equity of fertility services irrespective of the cause of patients' failure to conceive. To have patients wait several years, or to feel they have no alternative but to go overseas, is quite iniquitous.

If the HFEA continues to allow infertile women to benefit financially by receiving free IVF, on the understanding that they must be persuaded to give up half their eggs, is it no less acceptable to allow all fertile donors to receive an inclusive participation allowance, out of which all expenses must come?

Such a system would at least be open, honest and accountable, and would regularise payments which obviously do occur between some known donors and recipients over which the HFEA has no control. It would not prevent altruistic fertile volunteers and would almost certainly lead to more donors coming forward. This is far more acceptable in moral terms.