Egg donors ARE available in UK…so why are clinics still sending people to Spain

Result!  At one of the morning workshops at the HFEA conference in London yesterday it became clear that we had in the room someone from a clinic in Scotland where they had many waiting recipients and no egg donors and some people from a clinic in England where they had so many egg donors they were advertising for recipients!  The Scottish clinic had a tie-up with a clinic in Alicante Spain but it had apparently never occurred to them that they could work with other clinics in the UK in order to meet the needs of their patients for egg donation.   By the end of the day it was reported to me by someone from the English clinic that six women from the Scottish clinic would be referred to them pronto!   As I said, result…but it does leave the question hanging of why this isn’t happening more often.  The answer is almost certainly more complex than seems at first sight, involving money, competition between clinics and the sometimes false wringing of hands by some clinics at the ‘impossibility’ of finding donors when actually they are very comfortable referring patients abroad, preferring to leave the considerable effort of recruiting UK donors to others.  And that’s without taking into account the difficulties of referring patients between NHS and privately run fertility services.

The big problem with clinics referring people abroad is that they rarely explain two very important things.  The first is that there are clinics in the UK where egg donation is available without waiting lists and second, most importantly, that going abroad to a country where donors are anonymous puts children in a distinctly different position to those conceived in the UK.  If people choose to go abroad in full knowledge of the implications of what they are doing then, although I am personally not comfortable with that choice, it is a free world and at least they understand – or they should – what they may have to face in the future.  What is distressing is when people, wanting only to believe that their clinic is directing them somewhere that is in the best interests of their family, discover or realise the full meaning of anonymity, lack of information or a way of ensuring that their records are kept, and kept safe.

I felt that for the very first time yesterday the HFEA really took note of these concerns and the urgent need for there to be a central place where information about the availability of UK donors could be made accessible to patients in an unbiased way.  The National Gamete Donation Trust has been undertaking this task informally but is far too stretched to be able to keep on top of constantly changing information.  If better funded they may be the ideal people to do so, but if the HFEA decides to take it on then that could be fine too.  But in the meantime it is very frustrating to know that everyday some clinics are cheerfully sending patients off to Spain when there are egg donors ready and waiting just down the road.

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About oliviasview

Co-founder and now Practice Consultant at Donor Conception Network. Mother to two donor conceived adults and a son conceived without help in my first marriage.
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13 Responses to Egg donors ARE available in UK…so why are clinics still sending people to Spain

  1. marilynn says:

    Olivia do you think people should only be seeking to reproduce with someone willing to be known and contacted after the person is born? Even if its 18 years later

  2. oliviasview says:

    Marilynn: I would never use the term ‘seeking to reproduce with’ as referring to a donor, but yes I do think if it is at all possible, then people should use donors who have committed to being identifiable to any child born. I would never condemn or judge those who have not done so, but it is in the interest of the child (and therefore the whole family) that as many doors should be left open as possible so that offspring can make their own choices about information and contact rather than having them dictated by the choices their parents have made.

    • marilynn says:

      Thank you.
      I’m curious whether your desire not to use that particular phrase is just colloquial preference or whether you believe that it is a factual inaccuracy. A person who has offspring is a bio parent who reproduced with the other bio parent. I was just asking if you feel the individuals should always be willing to be known to one another for the good of their child and I think you said the answer is yes when it comes to people who are classified as donors and I think it follows that then you’d feel the same way about people who were not classified as donors. They do both reproduce together or they would not share the same offspring. Terms like donor reproduction and donor conception pretty much say the same thing right people are conceiving with donors reproducing with donors and are having offspring with donors. They are just raising them alone or with their partners. It’s fine that you would not use the phrase of course but may I ask if you’d expand on what bothers you about it?

  3. oliviasview says:

    As far as I am concerned people are reproducing with their partner (in lesbian and heterosexual couples) or on their own…all with the help of a donor. The legal status of parent and the social and emotional stability for the child all come from the raising parent(s). Information about the donor may or may not be important for the offspring in the future. This information and the possibility of contact with the donor should be available. The donor makes a vital contribution to the creation of the child but plays no part in the nurture. This is what makes a donor agreement.

    • marilynn says:

      “As far as I am concerned people are reproducing with their partner (in lesbian and heterosexual couples) or on their own…all with the help of a donor.”

      The partners of bio parents who are either the same gender or who are infertile are not able to reproduce with the help of a donor. You know that is not true. Bio parents who reproduced with donors are just raising their offspring with their partners and spouses instead of with the donor.

      Olivia it may emotionally feel like the child is theirs with their partner who is infertile or the same gender but to imply to an innocent child that they actually reproduced with that person is very unfair and untrue. If you are trying to tell a child the truth about being donor conceived you’ll mess all that up if you then make it sound like the donor did not conceive.

      If conception and reproduction are really is not important to being a parent in your eyes and nurture is what really counts in your eyes then why go out of your way to imply that you feel as if they reproduced with the partner and not the donor? You know a donor had to reproduce or would not have offspring. If reproduction does not earn a person the title of father or mother in your book why would you you then imply same sex couples and couples where one partner is infertile had reproduced together? You wind up implying they did something that makes them no better than a common donor person.

      It’s a contradiction to say you feel like they reproduced when you believe strongly that reproduction is unrelated to being a parent. If you use that language when you tell it creates a lie that they will later discover is not true, the very same lie that you are attempting to prevent by telling them in the first place. You don’t want the whole exercise to be for naught by saying the truth phrased as a lie.

      • gsmwc02 says:

        “Olivia it may emotionally feel like the child is theirs with their partner who is infertile or the same gender but to imply to an innocent child that they actually reproduced with that person is very unfair and untrue. ”

        There is no implication that the child is genetically theirs. You are assuming that is the implication but that’s simply not the case. It’s strictly from a relationship standpoint on both ends so the child has a sense of belonging.

  4. oliviasview says:

    They are not confused Marilynn. I’m afraid I think you are.

    • marilynn says:

      OK please clarify donors with offspring have reproduced themselves, correct?

      Infertile people and same sex partners raising donor offspring have not reproduced correct?

  5. oliviasview says:

    I’m not going to engage any more on this one Marilynn. We have profoundly different views. Yours based on the fundamental importance of genetics and mine on the fundamental importance to children of social and emotional relationships and the intention to parent. Let’s leave it at that.

  6. Jeff Bergstrom says:

    This Olivia woman is hard work, very opinionated and ultimately deluded.

    As you can see from the comments above, she cannot hold an argument, instead choosing to flee.

    As for UK donors, she fails to detail the reality. Such ‘donors’ (a misnomer, they are “egg sharers”) are far from ideal, themselves undergoing IVF and choosing to ‘share’ their eggs simply to reduce the cost of their own treatment. They are very far from being altruistic. Olivia fails to inform people of any of this important information. In summary, they are not ideal candidates as donors.

    Meanwhile, foreign clinics are able to source young, fertile donors, not undergoing fertility issues.

    Spain gets a mention; however Spain is world renowned in this field, unlike the UK.

    As for the anonymity argument, where is the proof that donors will ultimately want to engage with respective conceived kids once they reach 18 years of age? Correct – there is none, its ultimately a meaningless position. I wouldn’t argue that some donors will engage but overall I would be willing to bet many will choose to keep their council. Olivia’s argument is based on all donors remaining open to engagement 18 years down the line, a completely flawed and wholly unrealistic prospect, leaving kids in an unfortunate limbo after building up their hopes over many years.

    Anyways, why let the truth get in the way of a good story. Olivia should work in the PR media.

    Prospective parents seeking an egg donor should beware what this woman spouts; Indeed, ask FertilityFriends what they make of her agenda. It might surprise you.

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