Women from around world coming to Czech Republic for IVF treatment

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Thanks to relatively low costs – and liberal legislation – the Czech Republic has in recent years become an increasingly attractive destination for what could be called IVF tourists. Women from around the world are having test tube babies at Czech clinics, such as one in the south Moravian town of Zlín.

While spectacular architecture draws millions of tourists every year to Prague, in the somewhat grim town of Zlín in the eastern part of the Czech Republic there is a rather different attraction – a state of the art in vitro fertilization clinic. Every month, it welcomes around 100 women from Western countries – like Anna from France:

“I happen to suffer from an ovarian deficiency. I am 43 years old now and my gynaecologist back in France advised me to try to get an egg donation, preferably abroad, because in France waiting times are very long, between two and three years.”

By contrast, the waiting period is two or three months at Zlín’s private Clinic of Reproductive Medicine and Gynecology, with whose help over 1,000 babies have been born in the seven years since it opened.

On the internet a US intermediary firm advertises the clinic’s services as an “IVF Vacation”, and general manager David Rumpík says keeping patients amused is part of the service, given that a full IVF cycle lasts three weeks:

“It’s a problem because three weeks is a very long time. Most of our clients look for a programme, for example trips to Prague, to Brno, to Vienna.”

Three weeks is rather a long stay for medical treatment. But when patients receive eggs from other women, they can be in and out of the country in less than one week. David Rumpík:

“It’s possible to spend a short time in the Czech Republic in the case of oocyte donation – if some woman needs an egg from another woman. The woman comes to the Czech Republic with her husband. The husband gives sperm. We prepare embryos…from sperm of the husband. We cultivate embryos for three to five days. The time in the Czech Republic is three to four days.”

The clinic advertises for egg donors in Zlín, with many recruited from the local university. But as elsewhere in Europe, payment as such is illegal. Head doctor Ladislav Pilka:

“We can’t call it payment. We have to call it ‘reimbursement for costs’. It’s reimbursement for what they’ve lost because of the process – because payment would not be acceptable.”

In a region where the average monthly salary is around CZK 20,000, these young women receive compensation of CZK 15,000 per egg donation. There are currently around 100 on the clinic’s books.