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An ethical issue that has largely been overlooked and neglected is the potential conflict of interests faced by medical professionals in the recruitment, counselling and reimbursement of egg donors. It must be noted that fertility treatment in private practice is an overwhelmingly profit-driven enterprise. To attract more patients and generate more income, there is a strong incentive for fertility clinics and doctors to actively and aggressively recruit women for their egg donation programme. In some countries where substantial financial remuneration for egg donation is permitted—for example, the United States,1 2 fertility doctors and clinical embryologists often act as the “middleman” or broker to facilitate the transaction of eggs between donor and recipient. Very often, the usual practice is for fertility clinics to charge patients a commission for sourcing egg donors, which is an additional profit on top of substantial medical fees that would be earned from provision of fertility treatment to the same patient. This is ethically contentious; because the money earned is not directly related to medical services rendered to the patient, but is instead attributed to the brokerage and transaction of donated human material.
There is a risk that the welfare of the …
Competing interests: None.
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