I started working on the Guide full of hope and good predictions. Our aim was to create an informative and objective guide for fertility patients travelling for IVF or egg donation abroad. In our case, ’objective’ means completely independent of IVF clinics. It’s a common thing for patients to turn to medical service providers directly when looking for the information and help. We wanted to approach the subject in a different way – from the legislative point of view. So that each foreign IVF patient knows what his/her legal rights and possibilities are in a given country and what they may expect in case of potential lawsuit claims.
The countries regarded as best IVF destinations in Europe are famous for their liberal and patient-friendly legislation on fertility treatment. Surely, they’re open to all inquiries from foreign patients seeking medical help in their country as well.
Well, the reality didn’t come up to my expectations as perfectly as I imagined. Although at first the task I took on seemed easy. We prepared an email with detailed questions concerning IVF treatment and legislation in a given country. Then I noted down the contact email addresses from the websites of health ministries in the countries of our interest, entered them in the “To” field and clicked “Send”. It occurred to me to be the most obvious way to access the information from authorised representatives.
It is easy to imagine that each ministry of health in Europe nowadays has its own representative who deals with issues and inquiries coming from foreigners, including fertility tourists. With EU borders open, providing assistance to not only local patients but also to the foreign ones seems to be a necessity. Especially, when the English-language version of the website is available and running. Well… nothing could be further from the truth.
To be fair, we cannot lump all the countries together. There were some that answered within a few days or with (only!) a week or two-week delay. The answers were more or less detailed, some proved to be very helpful, others contained the commonly known (but still useful!) data. We are extremely grateful for their help and we highly appreciate the interest they showed in our Guide. It is also very encouraging for all the foreign IVF patients looking for information from the health ministry in one of those countries. While in the others…
To cut it short, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. I’m not even going to recall how many urging but still polite messages I had to send, following the first official inquiry. Probably the most surprising to me was to find out that in the health ministry of one of the popular European IVF destinations it was very difficult to find someone who actually spoke English. I learned that when I finally decided to make a direct phone call. And although I was eventually given the proper email address at which I should send all messages in English, I still did not receive any answer. In fact, up to the publication date of this Guide, we did not receive any answers from Spain, Greece and Russia. You’ll find a comprehensive report on our contacts with ministries of health and health institutions responsible for IVF treatment on page 54 of this Guide.
Summing up: we wanted to present popular IVF destinations in Europe from a different angle. Instead of focusing on their renowned fertility clinics, we decided to shed some light on legal aspects of IVF treatment and official assistance an international patient can gain from the local authorities. The conclusions we reached we would not call satisfactory. Again, it turned out that the real life is very often very far from colourful marketing folders.
Content Editor, IVF Media Ltd.