February 02, 2011
Financial Schemes For Use Of Egg Donors

A fertility clinic offers intriguing choices for financing the use of egg donors and in vitro fertilization to start a pregnancy.

Shady Grove Fertility's Shared Risk 100% Refund program continues to be a very popular option for patients.  The Shared Risk program offers IVF and Donor Egg patients up to six treatments for a flat fee, with a guaranteed, 100% refund if treatment is not successful. More than 1,000 patients enrolled in the Shared Risk 100% Refund program for IVF or Donor Egg treatment last year, an increase of nearly 18% over 2009.

Think about where this can lead. As biotechnology for selecting genetically genes and embryos for implantation improves one can imagine fertility clinics offering financial guarantees for how smart or good looking a baby will turn out to be.

For especially desirable egg donors it is possible for prospective parents to pool their money to offer greater incentives for especially desirable egg donors. If a donor can produce enough eggs from a single hormone treatment then more than one woman can get embryo implants using some of those eggs.

Shared Donor Egg Program Allows two to three recipients to share the eggs of a single donor, which can reduce the cost of treatment by up to 50%. Can also be offered in conjunction with the Shared Risk 100% Refund program.

What works against this in the longer run: The desire to genetically test more embryos in order to increase the odds one of the embryos will combine all the desired genetic variants known to exist in the egg donor and sperm source. As pre-implantation genetic testing of embryos becomes more detailed in terms of what it can predict about the resulting babies many couples will opt to create many embryos. Think of it as throwing the dice multiple times in hopes of winning all you want. Since most embryos will not include the ideal combination of egg donor genes and sperm genes it will be advantageous to fertilize many eggs. That means fewer eggs will be left over for use by another couple.

In the even longer run donor egg shortages will cease to be a constraint on starting pregnancies as techniques to produce eggs from normal skin cells will no doubt be discovered and shifting into clinical use.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 February 02 11:37 PM  Bioethics Reproduction


Comments
lhf said at February 9, 2011 5:18 AM:

Is anyone looking at the long-term consequences of a small number of egg and sperm donors providing anonymous "product" to strangers? For example, what happens when unknowingly related progeny produce a child? And what about the progeny of an egg or sperm donor using egg or sperm from the same source as his/her parent(s) did? These are not silly questions anymore. Are there record keeping practices in place to prevent this?

Randall Parker said at February 9, 2011 8:24 PM:

lhf,

Online dating services should offer the option of screening for genetic compatibility where people with matching harmful recessives can avoid each other.

In real life people will surreptitiously take DNA samples of each other in dating situations.

Prospective parents will voluntarily get themselves tested before conceiving.

So the odds of recessives harming future generations might go down.

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