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Assisted Reproduction

More Media Outlets Scrutinizing Egg Donor Compensation

It sure did not take long for other media outlets to pile on:

So, egg donation agencies aren’t following voluntary guidelines — what’s the big deal? The guidelines are voluntary after all. In a position statement, ASRM explains why the guidelines are essential: “High payments could lead some prospective donors to conceal medical information relevant to their own health or that of their biologic offspring.” There’s also “a possibility that women will discount the physical and emotional risks of oocyte donation out of eagerness to address their ļ¬nancial situations.” Essentially, the worry is that it capitalizes on women’s financial desperation. Later on in life, they might struggle with their youthful decision to sign away parental rights and all contact with the children born from their eggs.

One small quibble with this passage: it isn’t just the agencies who are not following the voluntary guidelines promulgated by the ASRM. Also complicit are the physicians. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine is fundamentally a medical organization comprised of medical professionals. While individual owners and employees of donor agencies can become members of ASRM, the organization’s core constituency is medical professionals. Unwittingly then, the author of this article highlights both the problem and the solution to this controversy.

As I have mentioned previously, the ultimate gatekeepers in this industry are the fertility clinics. And with them lies the very easy and viable solution to effectively address the concerns expressed by the Salon article and others critics. Specifically, require the physician performing the egg retrieval to obtain a written confirmation from the attorneys for the Recipient Parents and Egg Donor that the underlying arrangement, including the fee to the Donor, is in compliance with ASRM Guidelines. Full stop.

This would impose no undue hardship on the fertility clinics as almost all of them already insist upon receiving written legal clearance before beginning the Egg Donor on her injectible medications. If the compensation exceeds the $10,000 guideline, then the onus would be on the physician to justify the deviation. My guess is no reputable physician will risk losing his or her membership in ASRM and would simply refuse to perform the egg retrieval. Parenthetically, for this proposal to work, it also requires that ASRM police its own as they did when they stripped OctoDoc, Michael Kamrava, of his membership.

By simply requiring the physicians to obtain written confirmation of compliance with the ASRM compensation guidelines, we could effectively eliminate any incentive for a donor agency to offer their egg donors more than the ASRM guidelines. Now, lets see if the media starts asking why the doctors will not take that very simple step….


4 comments for “More Media Outlets Scrutinizing Egg Donor Compensation”

  • Pingback: The Spin Doctor | ABC “News” Report On Egg Donation Panders To The Lowest Common Denominator()

  • That’s a fantastic idea.

  • PS — when they stripped OctoDoc, Michael Kamrava, of his membership did this really hurt him though?

    • That is a great question. I do not recall the sequence of events, but the California Medical Board charged Kamrava with gross negligence. So this might be the old chicken and the egg question as to whether ASRM led to the CMB charges or vice versa.

      Undoubtedly Kamrava benefited in the short-term and one has to wonder if the loss of his ASRM membership would have been a sufficient disincentive. Then again, Kamrava is the exception to the rule and most of the established and reputable fertility clinics would never want to lose their membership. In a way, it really is the only Good Housekeeping seal of approval equivalent we have in this field. My belief is that most patients doing their due diligence would be concerned to learn that their fertility group lost their ASRM membership. While not a perfect solution, I do think it is a vast improvement over the porous lack of self-regulation we have at the moment.

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