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Women Will Be Paid to Donate Eggs for Science

Women will be paid to donate their eggs for scientific research in a landmark decision that will prompt a fierce backlash from// leading figures in the medical world.

The Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the government regulator of this highly sensitive area, is expected to approve the policy when it meets on Wednesday. At present, clinics are not allowed to accept eggs donated for scientific research unless they are a byproduct of either IVF treatment or sterilisation. Campaigners for change say that this has led to a chronic shortage of eggs for scientific use.

The HFEA's influential Ethics and Law Committee has already privately recommended the controversial switch, and the authority is expected to follow this recommendation. The committee based its opinion on a 64-page report, seen by The Observer, summarising the arguments. 'The potential scientific gains outweigh the objections,' said one source closely involved in the decision.

The authority will argue that allowing women to donate eggs more generally for scientific use may help stem cell researchers to find cures for heart problems, infertility, diabetes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

Women who go through the medical procedure to harvest the eggs from their ovaries, which doctors describe as 'invasive' and possibly dangerous, will be paid £250 plus travel expenses, the existing maximum compensation for any egg or sperm donor. Anyone agreeing to donate will have to show that they are acting for altruistic reasons, for example because they have a close relative suffering with one of the conditions scientists are trying to develop new treatments for with the aid of human eggs.

But scientists from the University of Padua in Italy have warned that women who donate their eggs for research could be at risk from life-threatening side effects induced by the powerful drugs administered to them. The drugs help to increase the number of eggs prod
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