Doctors approve 'egg donor cards': The BMA annual conference: support for women to allow use of ovaries in fertility treatment after death

WOMEN and teenagers should be able to donate their eggs or ovaries after death but must carry special donor cards which prove they have given explicit consent, doctors agreed yesterday.

The new policy was set by doctors at the annual meeting of the British Medical Association in Birmingham, and should influence recommendations expected at the end of this month on the controversial subject. The meeting agreed that salvaging ovaries of young women who have died was ethically acceptable and donor cards should be introduced.

But the doctors strongly oppose the idea that ovarian tissue from a foetus should be used for the treatment of infertility - producing a child whose biological mother would not herself have had an independent life.

Next week, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority will close its six-month consultation on a document on the use of human ovarian tissue in fertility treatment and research. It is expected to make its recommendations to government shortly afterwards. They will include advice on the use of foetal and cadaver tissue.

Early in the year a major debate arose when it was disclosed that it will be possible to use ovarian tissue from aborted female foetuses to help infertile women become mothers. This technique is possible in mice and could be used in women in about five years.

The BMA is in favour of only using foetal tissue for research, at this stage. Dr Stuart Horner, chairman of the BMA Ethics Committee, said there was no reason why provision for women to donate eggs after death should not extend to girls.

'We believe it could apply to any girl of any age who in a doctor's judgement has made a competent decision.' That would include 'most 15-year-olds, a few 14- year-olds and the odd 12- or 13-year old,' he said. 'We say an individual must give consent in her own right.'

Dr Horner added: 'I honestly find it difficult in ethical terms to find a difference between cadaver and live donors. But it is quite clear inside and outside the profession that the use of foetal material is another matter.'

During the debate on these issues yesterday Dr David Brownridge, a Midlands GP, told how his wife Elizabeth, at the age of 40, had discovered that she was adopted. 'She recently completed the intriguing process of tracking down her natural parents,' he said. It had been an experience of great pleasure and anxiety.

'I can only begin to imagine the horror of being told by a person that your mother was an aborted foetus, you will never find her, she was destroyed years ago,' Dr Brownridge said.

Yesterday on BBC Radio, Baroness Warnock, whose report in the 1980s raised the first British debate on the issues, said that she believed it was too soon to consider fertility treatments using the ovaries of women who had died.

Lady Warnock said that the donation of eggs was implicitly different from the donation of kidneys. 'I'm very uneasy at the moment over the use of these eggs for implanting to produce a new child as a remedy for infertility.' She said that more time should be given to debate the issues arising from the proposition.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor