Shortage of egg donors 'limiting treatment'

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FERTILITY specialists are appealing for women to donate their eggs to others who are infertile, or at risk of passing on a genetic disorder to a child if they conceive naturally.

They say that a shortage of egg donors is depriving hundreds of couples of the chance of a family. A survey shows that about 2,000 women are awaiting treatment with donated eggs or embryos.

In 1991, 267 women received donated eggs and another 55 underwent treatment with donated embryos. Many women are unaware that egg donation is possible.

The National Egg and Embryo Society (Needs), which was launched yesterday, has the support of more than three-quarters of the 62 infertility units in the country. It aims to raise awareness of egg donation, provide information about what is involved, and put would-be donors in touch with their nearest donor centre.

Dr Brian Lieberman, director of the Regional IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) Unit, at St Mary's Hospital in Manchester, and founder of the society, said: 'The major limiting factor in treatment is the shortage of suitable egg donors. We need Needs to let women and their GPs know that about donation.'

He said women under 36 who had completed their families and wanted to be sterilised were the ideal donors. There are more than 90,000 sterilisations carried out each year but few women know that they could donate eggs beforehand. 'These women who have elected to be sterilised are ideal because the eggs can be collected at the same time as the sterilisation is carried out.'

Needs can be contacted at St Mary's Hospital, Whitworth Park, Manchester, M13 OJH; 061 276 6340.