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U.K. Donor Egg Patients
Why they may want to look to the U.S. for treatment.
a blog by David Kreiner, M.D., F.A.C.O.G.
I just returned from the Fertility Show in London last week and was struck by the differences and similarities U.K. couples typically face on their journey to achieving the family of their dreams in comparison to the typical U.S. patient. The most remarkable differences relate to government regulations and the U.K. health care system affecting access to high quality care in the U.K.
Defenders of President Obama’s campaign to modify the American health care system could proudly point to the U.K.’s nearly universal access to IVF through their National Health Insurance. This, combined with their focus on minimizing risk to multiple pregnancy, is to be applauded. However, I heard U.K. patients complain about lapses in care that led to mistakes and failures in their IVF cycles.
Many IVF programs in the U.K. perform thousands of cycles annually. Unfortunately, it appears that patients from the large programs do not enjoy the careful supervision by their nurses and physicians that is more typical of smaller U.S. programs. In fact, the U.K. patients I interviewed seemed surprised that my patients are offered access to me through email on a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week basis.
We saw dozens of patients interested in going overseas for their egg donation. Apparently, donors in the U.K. are not adequately compensated, even for their time. This has limited available donors in the U.K. to patients’ own friends or family, or an occasional infertility patient who is willing to share her eggs. In addition, all children born in the U.K. as a result of gamete donation are entitled to learn the identity of their donor. Anonymity is not an available option. As many (if not most) recipient parents and donors prefer anonymity, this too critically impacts on the availability of desired donors in the U.K.
At ECF, we have no wait for donors and a tremendous variety of donors of different ethnicity, physicality, background, history, etc. At age 18, in the U.S., a recipient is entitled to non-identifying medical historical information. And FDA regulations enforce careful infectious disease screening, health screening, etc. We offer more than 20 pages of pertinent information on our donors!
In Spain, recipients aren’t offered as much information regarding their donor (such as appearance and medical history). My impression is that Spanish programs make the match for the recipient without discussing the volumes of information available on U.S. donors. Spanish programs, I am told, will transfer three embryos as compared to ECF where we encourage a