What constitutes a reasonable compensation for non-commercial oocyte donors: an analogy with living organ donation and medical research participation

Journal of Medical Ethics 45 (11):736-741 (2019)
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Abstract

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.

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