Clinic offers 'deal' for human eggs

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The Independent Online
MEDICAL ethics experts and the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child last night criticised a private hospital for offering fertility treatment to a woman if she would give them half the human eggs she produced.

Susan Burton, 34, failed twice to conceive through in-vitro fertilisation on the National Health Service, but could not afford the pounds 2,000 she was told she would have to pay for further attempts.

The Cromwell in Washington, Tyne and Wear - a satellite of the Cromwell Hospital in west London, told her it would give her free IVF treatment if it could keep half her eggs. The clinic plans to implant the eggs in another patient.

Under the Human Fertility and Embryology Act 1990 it is illegal to buy or sell human eggs but the law is silent on the question of exchanging them for treatment.

Mrs Burton has four children by her first marriage, but because of complications cannot conceive naturally again.

Phyllis Bowman, national director of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child, said: 'This really is treating children like a commodity. It is payment in the form of bartering and uses the woman as a kind of farm culture.'

Brian Vernon, lecturer in medical ethics at Newcastle University, said: 'This is a loophole in the law and amounts to another way of paying for treatment. It looks as though you can buy the component parts of a child and I cannot think anybody wants that.'