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New deal will allow Australians using IVF to import eggs from America.

 

A new deal that will allow Australians undergoing IVF treatment to import eggs from America is a serious game-changer for couples who are struggling to conceive.

This is tremendous news for women who are reaching the end of their reproductive years, or suffering from ovarian failure. The decision to undergo IVF treatment is an often-complicated decision for many women and the current shortage of egg donors in Australia only serves to makes the situation even more complicated.

This groundbreaking deal, announced today, will change that.

Monash IVF has become the first clinic in Australia to strike a deal with the US-based World Egg Bank, to import eggs from American women at the cost of $19,000.

The $19,000 cost suggested by Monash IVF is to cover the usual costs of the donation, and shipping. Interested parties can then expect to pay an additional $3500, after Medicare rebates, which cover costs associated with IVF cycles and implanting the eggs.

Currently 1 in every 33 babies born in Australia each year, is an IVF baby. That’s about 10,000 babies every year. There is an obvious need for more donor eggs – but they are harder to find than any egg in an Easter hunt.

The sale of donor eggs is banned in Australia. Previously, women who could not find volunteer egg donors among family and friends, would advertise – or even travel – overseas to find donors. ‘Donors’ being ‘someone who was willing to sell’.

Women have resorted to accepting anonymous egg donations, from sources that may not be carrying out the appropriate health checks. Some reports allege that women have paid up to $100,000 for eggs overseas.

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The problem with these deals is that there is little-to-no legal protection.

One in every 33 babies, is an IVF baby.

Many fertility clinics already have arrangements with overseas sperm banks – but Monash IVF is the first to strike an international deal that will apply to eggs. They have carefully negotiated an agreement overseas that meets local laws about egg donations.

What are the local laws? Donors cannot be paid for their eggs, but they can be compensated between $3500 and $5000. This is estimated to cover their costs, and the 20 hours that it takes (over approximately 5 months) to donate.

Currently, American donors will also be required to supply identifying information in case any children from their eggs ever want to seek them out – but Australians should keep in mind the possibility of legal changes in the US in the future, which would prevent children contacting donors.

The anguish and aggravation that comes from wanting and trying – and failing – to have a baby is almost indescribable.

There is no doubt that this new development is expensive, and cost-prohibitive for some. An argument put forward in The Age is that, “What would benefit more women is government investment in campaigns to boost the egg donor rate here in Australia.”

But for the thousands of women desperately wanting a baby – and needing donor eggs now – this news can only be seen as an improvement.

Would you consider importing eggs from overseas for IVF? Do you think the government needs to be doing more to encourage the donor rate in Australia?