There’s been a lot in the news recently about women going to the US to donate eggs. While to some this may seem appealing at first sight, there are a few issues that haven’t been covered in the news articles which you might like to consider too.
- The way US fertility clinics operate is not regulated centrally as it is in the UK. Although there is accepted good practice and some world-leading clinics are based there, standards do vary. Laws can be different from state to state, too. This means you should be careful to check out clinics and agencies in advance and be sure in your own mind that they are established and reputable. You will probably be expected to sign a legal contract prior to starting treatment, so you’ll need to read this carefully or get your own legal advice.
- The information you can find out as a donor may be quite limited. Clinics are not obliged to tell you how many people you are donating to nor how many pregnancies are achieved. If you want to be a donor to help people have a baby, you might never find out whether this has happened.
- Unlike in the UK, most clinics only provide anonymous donation where the donor is not identifiable to donor-conceived children or adults. This information could be important for your own family too, later on.
- Having medical treatment in the US can sometimes make it more difficult to get hold of your treatment records, which you might need afterwards. It can be time-consuming to set up communication between a US clinic and your doctor in the UK. There are various different drug regimes and types of egg donation treatment and your UK doctor will be best able to help you if they have the full medical records.
- Should you need any medical aftercare following a donation, you have ready access to the full resources of the NHS in this country. You may like to check out what the situation is regarding aftercare at any clinic that you are considering in the US; for instance, would it be advisable to take out some medical insurance beforehand.
- In the UK you can get compensation to cover expenses; in the US the sum you get is more like a payment for eggs. This means that it may be treated as earnings and so may be subject to income tax (as it is for many US donors). A first-time donor in the US is usually compensated a lower sum than a ‘proven donor’ whose donations have helped a couple achieve a pregnancy, despite going through the same treatment. Plus, you might like to consider the feelings of the donor-conceived person: many US donor-conceived people have said how uncomfortable they are about money changing hands for the eggs or sperm that created them.
- Last but not least, going through a donation abroad, away from friends and family, could be emotionally demanding, especially if things don’t go completely to plan. It’s best to avoid flying too soon after an egg collection because it might make any after effects worse, and symptoms can take 2-3 days to appear. You may also find it a lot more comfortable to rest in your own home after egg collection, rather than in a hotel by yourself.
As you might expect, we totally support UK donors staying in the UK to help UK couples, and naturally we would love it if you donated with us! Ultimately though, we fully recognise that it’s your choice as to where and when you donate, or if you do at all.
Whatever you decide to do, it’s a good idea to check out things fully in advance before you finally make your mind up. To find out more, see our information about egg donation with Altrui. Alternatively, if you want to talk about any of the issues in this blog, or egg donation in general, you can contact us for a chat on 01969 667875 or email Alison at email@example.com.