Fertility firm targets Cambridge students

May 12, 2012 at 5:54 PM
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CAMBRIDGE, England, May 12 (UPI) -- A British fertility company targeting female students at the University of Cambridge, offering $1,205 to egg donors, is "unacceptable," critics say.

Leaflets were distributed at the campus urging women to become "real-life angels" for couples unable to have children, The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.

The ads, written by fertility company Altrui on behalf of an unnamed couple who graduated from Cambridge, said, "We are looking for a real-life angel to be our egg donor. If you are compassionate, kind, healthy and between 18 and 35 years old, could you help us? We can imagine no greater gift than the chance to love a child."

Students found the leaflets two weeks ago at the beginning of their summer semester.

Altrui's Web site says egg donors "will be able to feel justifiably proud of yourself" as it "marks you as one special person."

Altrui is a profit-making company that charges infertile couples $2,089 to locate donors.

The company's site states it is illegal for women to be paid for egg donation in the United Kingdom, but "compensation" is permitted given the potential risks, including death in rare cases, associated with drugs donors must take to stimulate egg production.

"In recognition of the inconvenience, commitment and time given by an egg donor in going through the donation process, they [the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority] raised the maximum compensation to 750 pounds ($1,205). This came into effect on April 1, 2012."

Alison Bagshawe, who founded Altrui with her husband two years ago, said the couple the flyers were made for were granted permission from Cambridge's student union and all Cambridge colleges except one to distribute the flyers on campus.

"There are couples who are desperate to have someone find them a donor and I can't afford to do it for nothing. I have to pay a mortgage and eat," Bagshawe said. "I find the donors and support them going through treatment, then send them to licensed centers who take over at that point."

Geeta Nargund, the medical director of Create fertility clinic in London, called the distribution of the leaflets at Cambridge "unacceptable."

"Young women students who are financially vulnerable are being targeted to have unnecessary medical procedures that carry health risks. It's completely unacceptable," she said.

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