Childless couple to advertise on buses for eggs

After 14 years of unsuccessful fertility treatment, a middle-aged couple desperate to have a baby will launch a poster campaign on London buses today in the hope of attracting suitable egg donors.

Richard, 48, and Linda Weeks have spent £2,000 placing the ads in 50 buses in what could be their final hope of having a baby - doctors have warned Mrs Weeks, 54, that she is running out of time.

The posters feature a picture of the couple on their wedding day in 1993 with the text: “Please can you help us to have a baby?

“We’ll never be a mummy and daddy unless a wonderful woman aged 36 or under can help us by donating some of her eggs. You are our only chance of happiness.” The appeal by the couple, who are from Maidstone in Kent, will run for a month and follows their unsuccessful attempts to attract egg donors with ads in several local shops.

The pair, like thousands of other couples and hundreds of single women, have spent a small fortune and invested much time on IVF courses. But none of the treatments has worked so far and specialists at the London-based clinic attended by Mrs Weeks have said they cannot treat her after the age of 55.

Mrs Weeks, a librarian, said: “I’m sure many people will argue that I’m selfish. If egg donation is successful, I know I would be in my 70s when my child is still at school, but what’s so wrong in wanting a little one to love and cherish?”

About 2,000 children are born every year in the UK using donated eggs, sperm or embryos, according to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which regulates the fertility sector.

But egg and sperm donors are in short supply in Britain, triggered by the removal of anonymity from donors in April 2005. According to the National Gamete Donation Trust, a government-funded charity founded in 1998 to raise awareness of egg and sperm donor shortages, the average wait for an egg is two years.

The charity also believes the shortage is forcing some women to go abroad to seek fertility treatment.

In the US, women are paid up to $10,000 (£5,300) to donate eggs and waiting lists for treatments are rare.

The sale of eggs is illegal in this country, but not in the US, where egg donation is big business - donors with the right physical, personal and intellectual attributes can attract fees of up to $35,000 for their eggs, with some in the industry claiming that as much as $50,000 has changed hands.

Some fertility specialists argued last year that women should be paid to donate their eggs to overcome the shortage, which has lead to long waiting lists at clinics.

Mrs Weeks said: “Richard is wonderful with children. He has endless patience, but all we have is the empty hole where our family should be.”

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