Selected news stories from the international press relating to Asian (In)Fertilities:
Shortage of donated gametes and long NHS waiting lists mean thousands of UK women are seeking fertility treatment abroad - The Guardian
(22 May 2009)
Thousands of British women desperate to have a child are going abroad every year to have fertility treatment in order to avoid NHS waiting lists and a shortage of donated eggs.
The numbers are increasing because foreign clinics cost less than British ones, treatment is available within weeks and more older women are seeking to become mothers when their fertility is declining. The growing international trade in "fertility tourism" has been highlighted by the case of Elizabeth Adeney, the 66-year-old Suffolk woman due to give birth after receiving fertility treatment at a private clinic in Ukraine. She is set to become Britain's oldest mother, succeeding psychiatrist Patricia Rashbrook, who had a son in 2006 when she was 62. No data is kept on the number of British women who seek fertility treatment in countries such as Spain, Greece, Russia, the US and India. But Lorraine Culley, professor of social science and health at De Montfort University who is leading a new government-funded study of the subject, said it may be in the thousands. "We've come across one clinic here that sent 90 women abroad inside a few months," she said. Culley and colleagues from three other universities have recently begun the first academic inquiry into British women seeking transnational reproduction, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. They will be interviewing scores of people with fertility problems to get more detailed information. Couples here are able to exploit the fact that, in some countries, women who choose to donate eggs can be paid, said Culley, with some donors in America receiving up to $10,000. In Britain, by contrast, tight regulation of fertility means egg donors receive only expenses. "All the evidence is that cross-border reproductive care is growing. Women here do this for all sorts of reasons," she said. "There is a serious shortage of eggs, donated sperm is in shorter supply than before, the cost can be cheaper abroad and some people want IVF which they can't get on the NHS." The only previous study, conducted last year by the charity Infertility Network UK, found that 76% of the 339 respondents said they would consider going abroad for treatment. Professor Valery Zukin, Ukraine's representative at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, said 10% of the patients at the Nadiya clinic he runs in Kiev were from abroad. His clinic treats 10-15 women a year now, compared with five or six in 2006. Most come to receive eggs donated by young Ukrainian women, and the others for IVF. "The oldest British woman we have treated was about 50, but usually they are aged 37 to 49. It's perfectly legal to treat a woman of 66, but I wouldn't treat anyone older than 50 or 51, unless in except circumstances," he said. Dr Allan Pacey, secretary of the British Fertility Society of specialist doctors, estimated that thousands of women travelled abroad annually because of frustration with delays of many years to receive a donated egg or a year to receive donated sperm in the UK. "The depressing postcode lottery in NHS fertility treatment means there are people who aren't happy with what the NHS locally feels it can offer," he said. But the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority said procedures at some foreign clinics may not be safe, success rates may have been exaggerated and a child born as a result of the treatment may never be able to find out about any half-siblings it has because such information is not routinely available elsewhere. "There are clear risks," said a spokeswoman. Pacey said some couples were deliberately going abroad in order to get round British law which, in 2005, gave any child born from then on as a result of egg, sperm or embryo donation the right once it turned 18 to find out the name and contact details of the donor. Isobel O'Neill, a fertility counsellor in Glasgow, said couples seeking a donated egg who visit the Glasgow Royal Infirmary are told there is a six- or seven-year wait for one on the NHS. Even those willing to pay at the private Glasgow Centre for Reproductive Medicine, where she also works, face a delay of up to a year.