In San Francisco, eggs for the World Stem Cell Hub will be obtained beginning in January through the Pacific Fertility Center (PFC), an IVF clinic that also runs an egg donor agency.
PFC devotes several pages of its website to describing the protocol it follows with women interested in providing eggs for other people's fertility treatments. But the information it gives significantly downplays the invasiveness and hazards of egg extraction procedures. These risks have not been well studied or widely discussed, but it is well known that serious adverse reactions do occur. In fact, the drugs used for egg extraction have caused a number of deaths, including two (1, 2) reported in the UK since April.
Other concerns about egg extraction include:
the creation of a market for eggs, in which young or low-income women would be exploited if payments were offered
whether women providing eggs will get medical care if they experience side effects and, if so, who will cover the costs
how women can be adequately informed of the risks involved given the lack of long term data on the effects of the drugs.
PFC medical director Philip Chenette says he plans to follow "accepted research and community standards." But the standards are shaky, enforceable regulations are non-existent, and even voluntary guidelines are still in formation.
"Clinic searching for egg donors," San Jose Mercury News (October 20)
"Stem cell measure vetoed," San Francisco Chronicle (October 1)
"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed a bill that would have added an audit requirement and egg-donor protections to the California stem cell program created by Proposition 71 in November's election."