We were talking about overseas ED in another thread...
Egg donation: Eastern Europe - 'The misery behind the baby trade'
The misery behind the baby trade
Britain's oldest mother fell pregnant using a donated egg from Eastern
Europe. Now the Mail reveals the terrible human cost to the donors who
damage their fertility for a few pounds
By Fran Abrams, Daily Mail. 17th July 2006
Earlier this month, 62-year-old Patti Farrant posed delightedly with her new
son JJ, hours after becoming Britain's oldest mother after undergoing
several courses of fertility treatment. It was a picture of glowing
contentedness; the miraculous gift of birth when once upon a time her age
would have made it impossible.
Unpick the details of her story, though, and something else begins to
emerge. Like a growing number of other British women who cannot conceive
naturally, she had to travel to Eastern Europe to receive a donor egg. In
short, she had submitted her hopes and dreams to the mercies of the
international egg donation trade.
In the West, this trade goes by the innocent-sounding name of 'fertility
tourism'. Women like Dr Patricia Rashbrook (Patti Farrant's professional
name), a child psychiatrist, pay up to £11,000 [US $20,000] for treatment
abroad in order to sidestep a British law which bans payment for egg
donations. They are treated in smart, modern clinics with sleek furnishings
and potted plants, and their donors are paid £150-300 [US $275-550] for
But the business has a disreputable underbelly - one which is causing the
authorities in this country grave concern. This lucrative trade thrives on
the desires of vulnerable women in Britain and in other Western countries,
desperate to fulfil their dreams of a family. But it thrives, too, on the
vulnerability of other desperate women in poor countries who sell their
Those who come in search of a child are not told about the terrible risks
imposed on egg donors - and even more scandalously, in some cases neither
are the donors themselves. Too often, those women are left damaged by the
procedures they undergo - and a growing number have been robbed, as a
result, of the chance to have families of their own.
They include women such as Alina Ionescu from Romania, whom I met in the
grim post-communist centre of Bucharest. In so many ways, Alina is just like
any young bride. At just 20 years old and married for nine months, she
dreams of a future in which she and her husband, Nicu, will watch their
But Alina may never have children. Two years ago, when she was saving to get
married, a friend told her of an easy way to make money - she could donate
her eggs at one of the many Eastern European clinics to which British women
travel for fertility treatment. The doctors at the Romanian clinic where
Alina was paid £150 [US $275] for her eggs - a clinic which had links with a
leading London fertility centre - left her ovaries so damaged and scarred
that she is now infertile.
Alina's story is not unique. Egg donation is a risky business, which causes
side effects in one in five women who go through it. One in every 100 - and
there are many hundreds each year - has her life and her fertility put in
jeopardy, as Alina did.
Alina tells her story in a quiet, steady voice, but the constant twisting of
her fingers in her lap betrays her distress. How does she feel, then, about
the British women who travel abroad to buy the eggs of young women like
herself? Alina's reaction is heart-warming and yet at the same time
terribly, terribly sad. "I would wish those women luck," she says. "Because
right now I can understand how they feel. I have to keep believing that one
day I will have children." Her voice drops almost to a whisper as she goes
on: "Because I can't have children either."
Continued next post...