NIAW - Can you Compare Egg Donation to Blood Donation?

April 25th, 2012

When it comes to infertility and ART, awareness is essential for everyone involved - and it clearly must be an international effort. The attitude toward egg donation - and assisted reproductive technology in general - has always been a bit different in the UK. Unlike in the US, where databases of prospective donors have grown, over the past few years we’ve watched as a variety of new legislation and compensation guidelines have been introduced in an attempt to draw women to egg donation in the UK. Typically, UK donors do not receive the same level of compensation as in the US, if they are compensated at all. It is generally viewed as an “altruistic” act, and while we agree that egg donation is an amazing act of generosity, it is also a significant commitment both physically and emotionally.  Donors should be compensated for that level of commitment, as becoming an egg donor is time consuming, inconvenient, often uncomfortable, and requires quite a bit of effort!

More recently, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the UK’s fertility regulator, has been trying new tactics to drum up interest in egg donation. They are launching a new drive to encourage gamete donors by comparing it to something like blood donation. To us, this comparison seems misguided - and almost cavalier considering their previous attitude.

Reputable agencies and organizations tasked with guiding participants through this process are diligent in educating prospective donors as to the level of commitment and risks associated with this very generous act.  Also, in our experience, for a woman to make this commitment it is important for her to have an understanding of who is on the other side. We’ve found that so many of the egg donors we work with first became interested in participating after witnessing a friend or family member struggling with infertility. “I want to help someone like her/him,” we often hear. “If I have the ability to help them have a family, I want to do it.”

It’s clear to us that most donors are already participating for altruistic reasons. But by comparing this very intimate decision to donating blood, it takes away from the profound impact of egg donation. Not only should she be compensated for the time and effort in providing this generous gift, she should have a full understanding of its magnitude. Awareness is truly a must for everyone involved in third party reproduction.