Thursday, 28 May 2020

Týden: Czech IVF clinics give donated eggs mainly to foreigners

10 January 2017

Prague, Jan 9 (CTK) - Czech women donated their eggs to nearly 20,000 foreign women in 2010-14, which is something unprecedented in Europe, and this process turned into a lucrative business in the Czech Republic, weekly Tyden writes in its issue out on Monday, citing official health statistics.

Many Austrian, British and German babies are born from a "Czech" egg after assisted reproduction at Czech IVF clinics every year, and Czech genes are spread across the world in this way, the weekly writes.

Some activists and experts strongly dislike the reputation of the Czech Republic as a paradise of assisted reproduction.

"Any intervention into the human body poses a risk, even if minimal. Egg donation should really be only an altruist act done for the benefit of women who could not get pregnant in the natural way during their fertility age due to their health," said psychologist Hana Konecna, head of the Adam association that provides aid to couples who would like to have children but cannot.

According to Konecna, young Czech women do not help ill women but they risk their own health in order to earn money and mostly to satisfy foreign women who wish to give birth, although they often reached the age of grandmothers.

"Like it or not, this is the sale of a human organ. If we agree with it under these circumstances, it may have far-reaching consequences in future," Konecna told Tyden.

However, Czech legislation is likely to become even more open to the reproduction business. The Health Ministry has proposed that in vitro fertilisation (IVF) should be covered from the compulsory health insurance to Czech women who are younger than 43, while now the upper age limit is 39 years.

The services of Czech clinics of reproduction medicine are used by infertile couples from all over the European Union as well as other parts of the world.

Unlike in many countries such as Austria, Germany and Switzerland, egg donation is legal in the Czech Republic under certain circumstances. The official arguments of other countries for the ban are the protection of young women against possible blackmail and the fear that this service might be commercialised, Tyden writes.

Some countries refer to the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, which declares that the human body as such must not be a source of financial profit.

In other countries, such as France, egg donation is permitted, but it is against law to pay for it.

Not to be accused of running business with human organs, some Czech clinics do not officially pay the woman who donates the eggs, but they cover her costs related to the treatment. This practise turned the country into an egg donation paradise, Tyden writes.

"The financial compensation is around 18,000 crowns, it is approved by a professional association and paid out on the day of egg retrieval," the Reprofit fertility clinic writes on its website.

This clinic writes that it has a database of 1,800 egg donors, being the largest facility of its kind in the country. It writes that over 1,500 women come to donate eggs every year, however, approximately 40 percent of them are refused during the examination process.

Though the Czech fertility clinics present egg donation as aid to ill women who underwent cancer treatment, for example, the truth is very different, the weekly writes.

Most of the eggs end up abroad - the recipients are women who could hardly get them in their home countries due to stricter legislation and who pay more than 100,000 crowns for the IVF process to the clinic. In 2012, about 1800 women from other EU countries received an egg from a Czech donor. In 2014, this number increased to 4000, according to the data of the Czech Institute of Health Information and Statistics (UZIS).

According to some estimates, up to four billion crowns flow through the Czech fertility clinics, mainly thanks to foreign clients. About 40 percent of the fertility business, including Reprofit, is controlled by companies owned by billionaire Andrej Babis who is the current Czech finance minister.

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