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Doctors insist on abolishing donor anonymity in IVF procedures

08 December 2014 / 21:12:26  GRReporter
1749 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

The inability to have a child is a problem for an increasing number of couples in many countries. Statistical data show that 80 million couples worldwide have conceiving difficulties or have no child.

At the same time, no pathology of the reproductive system of partners has been established in 15% of infertile couples in the developed Western societies and no proven cause of infertility in 85%. However, 39% of them suffer from endocrine disorders, 27% have inflammation of the fallopian tubes, 10% factors that are not related to them, 1% suffer from sexual dysfunction and 1% from related disorders. In 20% of cases, the infertility among couples is due to men, in 40-50% to women and in 30-40% to both partners.

The fast development of modern medicine provides sterile couples with methods to materialize their dream of having a child. Along with them, however, some serious moral questions have emerged that society and the legislative institutions above all are slow in answering.

One of the most important among them is the anonymity of gamete donors, which is particularly serious for those children who have been conceived in this way. In most EU countries it is guaranteed by law, but the trend is about to change. "Germany, Austria and Switzerland were the first countries to recognize the right of the child to know who his or her biological parent is. The UK also changed the law in this direction in 2005, under pressure from lawsuits by children conceived by gamete donation. The judgements of the courts in many European countries and of the European Court of Human Rights are more frequently in favour of the plaintiffs, which creates a tendency for the removal of anonymity. The main argument in this regard is that the awareness of our biological parents is a component of the human personality and nature," said Professor Ismini Kriari from Panteion University in Athens. In her opinion, at present, donor anonymity in Greece and in the majority of the European countries is eliminated in two cases, namely when there is a serious threat to the health of the child and when there are doubts about incest.

Kriari presented some of the issues of bioethics in this section of medicine that are to be discussed during the conference on "The Spirit of Hippocrates - Bioethical Approaches in Human Reproduction", which will take place in Athens this Saturday.
Despite the legislation issues, the desire of sterile couples to have a child is great. According to statistics, they are 15-17% of the population in Greece but the good news as regards the Greek doctors is that they no longer seek help at clinics abroad and commit themselves to the care of local specialists.

According to the data presented by obstetrician-gynaecologist and specialist in reproductive health Konstantinos Pandos, he and his colleagues carry out over 14,000 IVF procedures, the vast majority of patients being infertile couples from abroad. "Assisted reproduction is the leading unit in medical tourism in Greece. Couples from 34 different countries visit our offices and the reason for this is the excellent service and results, as well as the Greek legislation that allows egg donation, control over pre-implantation embryos, etc - things that are banned in other European countries." Last but not least, he mentioned the prices of services in Greece, which are five times lower than in the US, which is the country of origin of the majority of patients.

Pandos said that Greece aims to become a regional leader in the field of assisted reproduction in the Balkans. Recently the Hellenic Association for Reproductive Medicine has signed a cooperation agreement with the Association in Romania on the training of Romanian doctors by Greek specialists. According to Pandos, the Greek experts in reproductive health are leading negotiations with the associations in Macedonia and Moldova to establish similar cooperation.

Asked by GRReporter about the age to which it is advisable for women to undergo IVF procedures, he said that the law permits the procedures until the age of 50 years. "This discretion of the legislator is not correct, since we have had visits by women aged 52-53 years whose partners are a few, and often quite a few, years younger. I think that in such cases there must be a way for these women to undergo the procedure." Elder women become mothers and when a surrogate mother, who can be aged up to 50 years, carries, and gives birth to, the child.

He stressed that reproductive health specialists pursue to achieve pregnancy with the smallest possible number of IVF procedures, adding that there is no scientific evidence that they can cause long-term problems and disorders in the female body.

Tags: SocietyАssisted reproductionIVF proceduresDonorAnonymity
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