Some fertility clinics 'exploiting couples with unnecessary tests'

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Eilish O'Regan

Couples who are undergoing fertility treatment in some clinics are being "financially exploited" and having additional investigations that are not necessary, the Oireachtas health committee was told yesterday.

Dr John Waterstone of the Irish Fertility Society said the proposed Government legislation on assisted reproduction should outlaw this.

He said people who are trying to have a baby can end up spending thousands of euro more on these procedures, which will not improve their chances of success.

He was appearing with other fertility experts before the committee to discuss the proposed legislation.

Asked by Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher if people born through IVF, where donor eggs or sperm were involved, are at risk of ending up marrying each other as adults, not knowing they were related, Dr Waterstone said it is a "theoretical possibility".

However, he pointed out that it has been estimated that 2-5pc of children who are born naturally may unknowingly have been fathered by a man outside their family because of extra-marital affairs.

He said the "elephant in the room is misattributed paternity" in families where there is natural birth.

Meanwhile, Dr Mary Wingfield of the Merrion Clinic said the proposal in the law to outlaw payments to women who donate eggs should be changed.

There should be some payment allowed for what is an altruistic gesture which also involves the donor having to undergo procedures, she added.

She also said the existing provision in law which means a person who had been born as a result of egg or sperm donation is automatically given this information if they seek their birth certificates as adults should be changed.

This could lead to major shock and distress for someone who was unaware of this aspect of their background and does not take into account issues such as their psychological state.

Dr John Kennedy of Virtus Health said around 3,000 people from Ireland are going abroad for fertility treatment a year. Some have multiple births but they are not receiving aftercare. Cost and access to donor eggs are among the reasons people go abroad.

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