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Author Topic: UK Clinic Imports frozen Russian Eggs to beat Donor Shortage  (Read 10407 times)
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Times Sunday 21.11.10

Sara-Kate Templeton

Clinic imports frozen Russian eggs to beat donor shortage

A British clinic has obtained permission to import frozen eggs from overseas to create an egg bank for childless women
A clinic has become the first in Britain to ship in frozen human eggs from Moscow to help solve a growing shortage of donors for infertile women. Children born as a result of treatment with the frozen eggs will have the right to trace their Russian biological mothers.
This is the first time a British clinic has obtained permission to import frozen eggs from overseas to create an egg bank for childless women. Until now, patients have had to travel abroad for egg donation if they have been unable to face long waits in Britain.
The dire shortage of egg donors in Britain has been blamed on a limit of just £250 being paid to women who give away their eggs. Other countries permit more generous compensation.
The import of frozen eggs from Moscow has been made possible by an improved method of egg freezing called vitrification. The technique, which involves removing water from the eggs, then freezing them at high speed in liquid nitrogen to prevent damaging crystals from forming, has resulted in pregnancy rates comparable to those achieved using fresh eggs.
The Centre for Reproductive and Genetic Health (CRGH), one of Britain’s leading IVF clinics, which has close links with University College London Hospitals NHS Trust, has already treated about 10 British women with eggs from Russian donors.
Paul Serhal, medical director of the private London clinic, said: “We have had a 50% pregnancy rate. A 50% pregnancy rate with frozen eggs is phenomenal.”
In order for the clinic to be granted permission to import eggs from the Altra Vita clinic in Moscow, the Russian women had to agree to their details being given to their offspring should the children wish to seek their genetically related mothers. British law gives all children born from egg or sperm donation the right to trace their biological parents.
On its website the Altra Vita clinic lists a catalogue of donors giving details of their height, weight and hair and eye colour. It also gives information about their level of education, age and ethnic background.
The Altra Vita is the only IVF clinic in Russia to be accredited by a respected American laboratory inspection programme. It has also had to satisfy the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the British body that regulates IVF, that the Russian women are not being paid excessively for their eggs. The CRGH had planned to import eggs from American women, but US donors routinely demand up to £6,250 a cycle.
Serhal says the bank of frozen Russian eggs spares British women the anguish of travelling for treatment to a country they do not know.
The CRGH already imports sperm from Denmark; so a British couple requiring egg and sperm donation could have a child whose genetic mother was Russian and father was Danish.
The importation of frozen eggs from Moscow was welcomed this weekend by fertility doctors. Dr Gedis Grudzinskas, editor of Reproductive BioMedicine Online, said: “This is good news for British women.”
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