Fertility tourism is booming business


A Taranaki couple is expecting a baby after spending $100,000 on fertility treatment – and they thank an Argentinian doctor for finally fulfilling their dream.

They are among an increasing number of Kiwis heading overseas for fertility treatment because it is easier to access donor eggs abroad, where it is lawful to pay for them.

In New Zealand, women can wait over a year to be picked to receive donor eggs, while overseas there are databases full of eggs for sale.

The clinical director at Fertility Associates in Auckland, Richard Fisher, says “fertility tourism” is on the rise, particularly for older women who are less likely to be selected to receive donor eggs.

He says about a couple a week head overseas to buy eggs and questions if the Government needs to debate whether more could be done to encourage more egg donors here.

The Advisory Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology is currently producing a report on donor eggs and sperm for Health Minister Tony Ryall to consider.

Meanwhile, Taranaki couple Mark and Julie, who do not wish to reveal their surname, say it was easy going overseas for fertility treatment – and urge others to do the same.

Julie says the couple met and married later in life and because she is aged in her 40s, they found it difficult to get pregnant using IVF treatment.

So they decided to seek donor eggs, something Mark describes as “incredibly tough” in New Zealand. There are long wait lists, many checks to be carried out and ultimately some couples may never be chosen to get them.

But after researching over the internet, Mark found donor eggs were freely available overseas – at a price.

Mark says eggs appear more expensive in America where you can request certain characteristics of the donor, while the Buenos Aires clinic they chose is more affordable, but it was left to them to match a donor to their dark-haired and blue-eyed characteristics.

The couple has since undergone three rounds of IVF with donor eggs through Fertility Argentina – each round cost about $15,000 including flights, accommodation and drugs.

“You love your children whether they are biologically yours or not,” she says.