Independent (UK) 2 April 2012
The gift of life is not immune to pecuniary incentives. Charities working with sperm and egg donors report a boom in enquiries from potential volunteers as new regulations allow fertility clinics to make more generous payments.
From today, men will be able to collect £35 per visit for their sperm, up from £15, and women will be paid £750 for their eggs, a threefold rise on the previous amount of £250.
The new rates, agreed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) following a public consultation last year, are intended to boost the number of donors to meet rising demand. But they have also focused attention on the question of transparency in donation after decades in which the biological origins of tens of thousands of children have been kept secret.
Donor anonymity was removed in 2005 and children born from gametes (sperm and eggs) used since that date will have the right to learn the identity of their biological parent when they reach the age of 18.
But they can only do so if the parents who brought them up tell them about their origins. A survey conducted prior to the law change found 28 per cent of children conceived from donor sperm and 40 per cent conceived from donor eggs had been told by the age of seven.
An inquiry by the Nuffield Council for Bioethics is to examine why parents choose not to tell their children and whether the information is so important, for medical as well as psychological reasons, that doctors and social workers should be involved.