Long-term medical follow-up needed for egg donors

I thank Madam Yap Kim Hong ("Safeguards needed for egg donation"; yesterday) for her interest in my commentary ("Egg donors: Payment ban can create a black and a grey market"; Monday), and I completely agree with her suggested safeguards for egg donation.

Additionally, because egg donation is an invasive and risky procedure, there is a need for long-term medical follow-up and aftercare of donors.

This would obviously not be available to foreign donors on tourist visas and short-term social visit passes; they would most likely return to their home countries immediately or shortly after the donation procedure.

Medical follow-up and aftercare after egg donation should not be on an ad hoc basis requested by the donor if she is not feeling well, as there is always the risk that undiagnosed medical complications may become life-threatening in the future.

Instead, the Ministry of Health should impose a mandatory schedule of medical follow-ups and checks for egg donors after the procedure, similar to that mandated for kidney donors.

Moreover, there is also the issue of professional liability and accountability if a foreign egg donor were to develop debilitating or life-threatening medical complications after returning to her home country.

Who then is going to be responsible for her welfare and foot the bill for her medical expenses?

To ensure continuity in medical care for foreign egg donors, the entire procedure of administering fertility drugs to stimulate egg production should preferably be carried out by one clinic in Singapore, and not be initiated abroad by a collaborating foreign fertility clinic in the donor's home country.

Recent statements by the British Fertility Society (BFS) and the United States' Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Zika virus transmission highlighted the extraordinary risks of utilising foreign egg donors.

Because there have been reported incidents of sexual transmission of the Zika virus, the BFS and FDA recommended that women who had travelled to countries with Zika infection should not donate their eggs for a couple of months after returning home.

Alexis Heng Boon Chin (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2016, with the headline 'Long-term medical follow-up needed for egg donors'. Print Edition | Subscribe