Intended for healthcare professionals

Education And Debate

An ethical dilemma: Should egg donors be paid?

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 10 May 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1400
  1. Ian Craft, directora
  1. a London Gynaecology and Fertility Centre, 112A Harley Street, London W1N 1AF

    An “inconvenience allowance” would solve the egg shortage

    I favour egg donation without financial reward, but the demand for eggs far outstrips the supply from women who donate for altruistic reasons. The end results are an inordinate delay, often of 1-2 years, for treatment for women who are destined to be barren, and the proliferation of private organisations that put donors and recipients in contact for financial reward.

    Egg retrieval is an inconvenient procedure.


    My preference is probably unrealistic in today's world, where money determines health care. Our prime concern is to provide an efficient clinical service. The principle of payment for donation is enshrined in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 since sperm donors are allowed £15 ($24) per donation. They can earn hundreds of pounds over several months for acts of transient pleasure. Concerns that egg donors were receiving £750 per treatment cycle led to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority hosting a conference on payment to donors in June 1995. Delegates pointed out that egg donation required greater involvement and invasive treatment than did sperm donation and …

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