Sharing of human eggs `not ethical'

THE HUMAN Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which controls fertility treatment in Britain, has issued a warning to clinics advertising "egg sharing" for women having fertility treatment.

In a letter to all fertility centres, sent this week, Ruth Deech, who chairs the authority, has told clinics it does not ethically approve of the scheme. "It has now come to the HFEA's attention that some centres have presented the decision to allow the practice of egg sharing to continue as giving ethical approval to such arrangements. This is not the case," she wrote.

"While the authority was persuaded that, if properly regulated and monitored, the practice could in some cases be beneficial to participants, it did not give ethical approval to such arrangements.

"As a result, the HFEA must ask all centres to remove any statements suggesting its approval of egg-sharing arrangements from their patient literature and advertisements."

The egg-sharing scheme involves a woman, whose only means of becoming pregnant is to have in-vitro fertilisation, agreeing to donate half her eggs to another woman who cannot produce eggs. In return, the donor pays nothing or reduced rates for her treatment.

Last year the HFEA almost banned the system after a patient trying for a baby was heartbroken to learn that another women had been successful using one of her donated eggs.

The HFEA feared that donors might be "financially induced to do something they would not otherwise do, and which they may regret later on in life".

The authority backed down after protests from some fertility experts who said egg sharing helped women who could not afford IVF treatment and removed the health risks associated with the alternative, in which healthy volunteers supply eggs.

Clinics such as the Cromwell Hospital in London have recently placed advertisements for egg-sharing schemes, which say the practice was "approved by the HFEA in December 1998". Dr Kamal Ahuja, director of the IVF centre at the Cromwell, which is the biggest egg-sharing centre in Britain, described the authority's letter as "very strange".

"We thought egg sharing had been approved last year. They seem to be saying they approve it but it is not ethical ... We await their guidelines and remain convinced that egg sharing is the way forward."

However, Professor Ian Craft, of the London Gynaecology and Fertility Centre, said the recent promotions for egg-sharing schemes gave unreal expectations to donors and recipients. "It can mesmerise participants into believing they are doing good whilst actually reducing their overall chance of succeeding with their own eggs," he said.

The authority is consulting the British Fertility Society and the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and expects to issue interim guidelines by the end of the year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate