HFEA shift on donor payments will make little difference

October 20, 2011

The HFEA announced yesterday that, after an extensive public consultation and review, the system for paying egg and sperm donors in the UK is changing.  Instead of donors being paid out of pocket expenses plus an allowance for loss of earnings of up to £250, egg donors will now be paid a blanket £750 per cycle, and sperm donors £35 per visit.

There was much discussion yesterday about the new payment to egg donors of £750 and whether this would encourage women to donate eggs for the money who wouldn’t otherwise have done so.

However, if we understand the HFEA’s press release correctly, this seems to be a bit of a misunderstanding.  The new figure of £750 does not seem to be an increase on the existing £250 cap, but rather a change of how the system works.  Women used to be able to claim their actual (unlimited) out of pocket expenses plus an allowance of £250 to represent (nominally) loss of earnings.  They can now claim £750 to cover everything, no matter what their actual expenses are.  In practice we know that expenses during an egg donation process can mount up very quickly, covering things like travel, drugs, the cost of scans and blood tests at a local hospital, childcare and time off work for consultations, counselling, scans and egg collection.  It’s not an easy or an inexpensive process.  The HFEA’s new rule therefore may not mean more money for donors, just a simpler way of dealing with expenses.  We think the change is less significant than it sounds, and will make little difference to donors or recipients in practice.

However, if nothing else, we hope that all this discussion about donation in the media will encourage donors to come forward.  Working with both donors and recipients, we know how much the donation process involves and we know what a life changing difference donation makes to people’s lives.  We salute all the donors in the UK who go through this to help others become families and we hope they know how very much they are appreciated.

There is more information about donation in the UK on our website.

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