Egg donation is not without risk

Experts raise fears that fertility clinics are subjecting donors to “intensive farming”


British fertility experts have raised concerns about the risks posed by ‘intensive farming’ of human eggs, after one donor produced 85 in a single session.


Figures from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the British Government’s fertility watchdog, showed that donors are producing record number of eggs in a single cycle.

In addition to the case study above, one woman has harvested 80 eggs in a session, while three others had between 70-72 removed, raising fears that clinics are trying to achieve maximum return on their investment.

The drug used to increase ovulation can lead to side-effects such as mood swings, headaches, fatigue, and in rare cases a potentially fatal condition called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS).

Recent studies show that women who produce more than 20 egg sacs using the drug had an 85% chance of developing OHSS.

One woman suffered from the condition after producing 50 eggs as part of the NHS fertility treatment.

“I felt like the doctor treated me as if I was a machine. He was looking at me as if I was an animal on that operating table, just producing eggs,” she said, reports the Telegraph.

Dr Richard Kennedy, the chairman of the practice committee of the International Federation of Fertility Societies, warned egg donors that they’re at particular risk of developing OHSS because they’re younger and more fertile.

“There could reasonably be a temptation to try to be more aggressive in stimulation regimes in these women to make sure you get a lot of eggs,” said Dr Richard.

“Practitioners need to be reminded that this condition is recognised as having potentially lethal complications and ensure the patients most at risk are identified and the treatment modified to reduce that risk.”

Meanwhile, the HFEA is currently reviewing the policy on financing donations, as it believes the £250 cap is so low, it’s putting women off donating.

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