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Egg donors may receive new payments

A public consultation has been launched that could see changes to the rules surrounding payments for egg and sperm donors.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is seeking people's views on several options, including the possibility of an "inconvenience" payment for donors.

However, the group said care would have to be taken to ensure sperm and egg donation is not seen as a money-earner.

Under current rules, egg and sperm donors are only compensated for expenses and loss of earnings.

In some other European countries, compensation is provided for the "inconvenience" and it is hoped that the introduction of a similar measure in the UK could help to free up donations.

Consideration is also being given to providing "lump sum" compensation payments, rather than reimbursing actual expenses.

The results of the three-month consultation could see the new system of payments brought in later this year.

Other potential changes could include the limit on the number of families one donor's eggs or sperm can be used to create.

At present, this is limited to 10 to minimise the chances of an accidental incestuous relationship between two children from the same donor.

The HFEA said that views on the family limit were being sought "to ensure the right balance is struck between increasing the availability of donated eggs and sperm and protecting the interests of donors and donor-conceived people."

Professor Lisa Jardine, who chairs the authority, said: "The donation of sperm and eggs is a generous act and donors have helped many thousands of people achieve their dream of having a child. We know that many people are facing long waiting lists at clinics because of a shortage of donors.

"We want to ensure that we have the best policies in place so that there are no unnecessary barriers in the way of those wishing to donate while protecting those who are born as a result of donation."

People can take part in the consultation by filling in questionnaires on the HFEA website. A series of workshops are also planned.

Decisions informed by the consultation process will be taken at a meeting of the HFEA in July.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority