US egg donation industry often ignores ethical standards, report claims

Michael Cook
11 Aug 2012
Reproduced with Permission

Many on-line human egg brokers do not adhere to ethical guidelines drawn up by the peak IVF body in the US, a survey published in the journal Fertility & Sterility has found. Some of the violations include failing to warn of the risks of the donating eggs and offering premiums for traits like good looks and good marks.

Guidelines issued by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine are voluntary and are not binding on non-members. "Our ability to influence the behavior of non-members is pretty limited," Sean Tipton, of the ASRM, told Reuters. "There's no question that there are some agencies that don't seem particularly interested in what our guidelines are, and we don't know how to impact their behavior."

"I would argue that there needs to be more attention from ASRM about these agencies, because you don't want these women exploited," said Robert Klitzman, of Columbia University and the lead author of the study.

Dr Klitzman and his colleagues analysed the policies of 102 websites of IVF clinics and egg brokers. About 34% offered higher payment if a woman had donated successfully in the past. Some also offered higher payments for educational achievement, athletic skills and good looks. More than 40% of the sites recruited women between 18 and 20, which is discouraged by the ASRM.

Klitzman also warned about risks. "To donate eggs is not an entirely benign procedure. It's not high, high risk, but you're taking very high doses of hormones, having needles stuck in your ovaries. The idea is to help people. The problem is, you want to make sure it's done appropriately and that people are not being exploited or taken advantage of." - Reuters, Aug 10