Friday, September 29, 2006

The story of Donor #15

A very interesting read over at A story by Kerry Howley, an associate editor of Reason, of her experience as an egg donor. The article is a bit long but worth the read as it gives a good summary of the history of assisted reproduction and the strangely intimate yet anonymous experience of contracting to donate her eggs to a couple for IVF treatment.

I most often see stories of the recipients of IVF treatment, less frequently stories of donors. Howley describes some of the nuances of a donor's emotions with comments like "Selling ova to another woman is at once impossibly intimate and wholly impersonal". And she describes the process as "...a transaction well suited to the Internet, which tends to provoke uninhibited sharing among strangers cloaked in anonymity."

Monday, September 18, 2006

Inhalable FSH to be evaluated

A new follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) from Syntonix Pharmaceuticals Inc. will undergo evaluation by Swiss firm Serano SA. The FSH:Fc SynFusion product is aimed at providing long-acting FSH therapy for the treatment of infertility. The chief advantage of the new product is that it can be inhaled and dosed less frequently than the hormones currently used which require daily injections.

Patients who are confident enough to administer daily injections themselves are not terribly inconvenienced by the current method, but they do experience varying degrees of discomfort. Other patients make a trip to the doctor or a nursing station to receive daily injections, which is a major inconvenience during the IVF protocol. If this inhalable FSH is successfully developed then IVF treatment will become even more routine.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Update on the donor sperm shortage in Britain

An update on the donor sperm shortage in Britain appeared in the Health section of the BBC News online edition. 74 of the UK's 85 fertility clinics were surveyed and 70% of the respondents said they had no donor sperm or insufficient supplies, with waiting time for couples of up to six months to receive donated sperm. The secretary of the British Fertility Society, Dr Allan Pacey, calls it a crisis and is critical of the British law that has caused the shortage. That law removes anonymity for sperm donors.

The interesting part of the story comes from the groups that brought about this law, charities that represent "donor-conceived people". They say that this new law simply puts donor-conceived people on a par with those who were adopted and feel a need to contact their biological parents. Olivia Montuschi, of the Donor Conception Network, says the shortage has been aggravated by the way in which fertility centers panicked donors by saying that the law could possibly be retroactive or that donor conceived people would make huge demands on them.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

IVF related death in England

The news site has a story about a woman who died from complications suffered during egg retrieval during IVF treatment at Leicester Royal Infirmary in England. Details are sketchy, but if the complication was a direct result of the egg retrieval procedure this will have been the first death involving IVF treatment in Britain. The couple are originally from India and were now living in Leicester, England.

This is a very sad story and a reminder that even procedures that have come to be routine still carry an element of risk. One aspect of the story to note is that although India has become a major destination for IVF treatment due to its high quality fertility centers and low prices, this Indian couple elected to have the IVF procedure in England. There is a certain irony to this when one considers how the western medical establishment disparages treatment at offshore medical centers, and then a rare death like this occurs at a British facility.