Fertility donor hunt by ANNE MATHER

Fertility donor hunt


March 30, 2009 08:52am

THE number of infertile Tasmanian couples waiting for donor eggs or embryos has hit a peak.

It has prompted a leading IVF specialist to search for new ways of attracting donors.

Hobart infertility specialist Bill Watkins says a record 38 women are on his waiting list, some of whom have been waiting since 2004.

Few egg donors are coming forward, with one to four women donating each year.

Dr Watkins, Tas IVF director, said his team would become "very proactive" about finding egg donors because the situation was "desperate".

He said advertising for donors, popular in some interstate cities, could help.

"We're putting quite a bit of effort into the donor program this year," Dr Watkins said.

He said the scarcity of donors was not because women were opposed to the practice but because the issue did not have a high profile.

"It tends to be a neglected area, perhaps because it affects only a small number of people," Dr Watkins said.

"Unfortunately for them, there are few alternatives.

"I believe there's quite a good number of people out there willing to donate, it's just a matter of firstly being aware of the need then actually taking the next step and making contact."

Tas IVF receives five or six embryo donors yearly.

Not all donor eggs and embryos are successful.

Dr Watkins said he sometimes encouraged patients in need of egg donors to ask friends and family.

Some donors had come forward after successfully donating to friends in the past.

One such egg donor, who did not want to be identified, said she donated her eggs to a 45-year-old friend.

The Hobart donor said she donated to a friend after her own fertility battle, having endured three miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy.

"I knew about the desire to have a child, that was probably one of the most difficult times I have ever been through," she said.

The donor, who now has two children of her own which she conceived naturally, wanted to help other women.

Her first donation to a friend resulted in a successful pregnancy and she had since donated again.

Dr Watkins said there was a shortage of sperm donors and the clinic had a diminishing range of donors from which to choose.

Since 2000, Tas IVF has required donors to agree to be identifiable to offspring when they reach 18.