Women who donate eggs to science will receive cut-price IVF
Childless women who donate eggs for cloning research will receive cut-price IVF, it has been revealed.
The deal is being funded by the Government-backed Medical Research Council, which says it will meet half the cost of a course – around £1,500 – in return for half the eggs produced.
The scheme is being run by the North East England Stem Cekk Institute in Newcastle, which two years ago revealed it had created an early-stage human embryo – a world first.
Although it was short-lived, scientists hope they will eventually get stem cells from embryos matched to an individual. These ‘building block’ cells could then be used to repair damaged tissue and organs.
The cut-price deal was approved by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in July last year and confirmed after a public consultation in January 2007.
But the research council’s award of £150,000 for subsidising IVF treatment, with a further £760,000 for research costs, has only just been announced.
Professor Alison Murdoch, head of the Newcastle Fertility Centre, told the Daily Mail: ‘I’m delighted at the MRC funding which allows us to recompense women who wish to donate eggs for their time and trouble.
‘This will ease the financial burden for those who require IVF.
‘There is no additional physical risk to the woman as a result of egg sharing.’
Physical risks aside, opposers have raised ethical questions. Josephine Quintavalle, of the campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said the scheme was tantamount to buying eggs and would place too much pressure on women.
She added: ‘This is exploitation of those who will be enticed into taking part because of financial inducements.’
The research council has stressed that this is an unusual case that would not set a precedent.
‘There are ethical issues in providing payment for treatment of people who are participating in research, and this is not normally MRC policy,’ said a spokesman.'[But] this will enable us to progress towards improving the efficiency of therapeutic cloning in humans an look in to underlying causes of infertility and birth defects.’