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What constitutes a reasonable compensation for non-commercial oocyte donors: an analogy with living organ donation and medical research participation
  1. Emy Kool1,
  2. Rieke van der Graaf1,
  3. Annelies Bos2,
  4. Bartholomeus Fauser2,
  5. Annelien Bredenoord1
  1. 1 Medical Humanities, Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care Utrecht, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  2. 2 Reproductive Medicine and Gynecology, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Ma Emy Kool; e.m.kool-3{at}


There is a growing consensus that the offer of a reasonable compensation for oocyte donation for reproductive treatment is acceptable if it does not compromise voluntary and altruistically motivated donation. However, how to translate this ‘reasonable compensation’ in practice remains unclear as compensation rates offered to oocyte donors between different European Union countries vary significantly. Clinics involved in oocyte donation, as well as those in other medical contexts, might be encouraged in calculating a more consistent and transparent compensation for donors if the elements that constitute a reasonable compensation are explicated. In doing so, lessons can be learnt from living organ donation and medical research participation. Practices in which the elements of a reasonable compensation for the individuals involved have already been more defined in the literature. By means of analogical reasoning, we will outline the different components of a reasonable compensation and subsequently apply these to the context of oocyte donation. We will argue that oocyte donors should first of all be reasonably reimbursed direct expenses related to the donation, without standard remuneration of lost wages. Second, donating oocytes requests a serious time investment, therefore donors are entitled to suitable compensation for their time spent and efforts made. Finally, we will explain that a reasonable compensation consisting of these two components allows for altruism to remain the key value of oocyte donation for reproductive treatment. However, if we acknowledge that donors’ motives are more complex and often include reasons from self-interest, the reasonable compensation may be complemented with modest (non)monetary benefits.

  • ethics
  • reproductive medicine
  • donation/procurement of organs/tissues

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  • Contributors EMK and RG designed the study and EMK drafted the first manuscript. RG, AMEB, BCJMF and ALB made substantial contribution to the paper and revised it critically. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding Funding was provided by the Dutch grand supplier the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw), grant number: 70-73000-98-200.

  • Competing interests AMEB and BCJMF are the initiators of the UMC Utrecht oocyte bank. During the most recent 5 years period, BCJMF has received fees or grant support from the following organisations (in alphabetic order): Actavis/Watson/Uteron, Controversies in Obstetrics & Gynecology (COGI), Dutch Heart Foundation, Dutch Medical Research Counsel (ZonMW), Euroscreen/Ogeda, Ferring, London Womens Clinic (LWC), Merck Serono (GFI), Myovant, Netherland Genomic Initiative (NGI), OvaScience, Pantharei Bioscience, PregLem/Gedeon Richter/ Finox, Reproductive Biomedicine Online (RBMO), Roche, Teva and WHO.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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