Romanian police arrest two in human egg trafficking case

BUCHAREST Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:50am EST

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BUCHAREST Feb 20 (Reuters) - Romanian police have arrested two people suspected of buying the unfertilised eggs of poor female students and selling them on to Israeli couples who were unable to conceive.

The human eggs were bought from the women - mostly from deprived provincial areas and aged between 18 and 30 - for up to 800 euros ($1,100), the police said in a statement. They were then sold for as much as 4,000 euros for in-vitro fertilisation at a private clinic in the capital Bucharest.

It was the second time in four years that police in the east European country have found human eggs being sold for artificial insemination, a trade that is against the law there.

Police did not name the clinic or the people involved. They said 30 people had been questioned so far in connection with the case, including doctors, nurses and embryologists. Most of the couples who had bought the Romanian eggs were from Israel.

"This morning we decided to detain two people, a Romanian and an Israeli citizen, partners in this clinic business," a Bucharest police official told Reuters. "We'll propose detaining them for 29 days pending the inquiry on the egg trade."

Students often struggle to make ends meet in Romania, where poverty has worsened since a real estate and credit bubble burst in 2008.

In-vitro fertilisation is sometimes used by couples who face problems to conceive and involves fertilising eggs outside the body and placing them in the uterus for a normal pregnancy. ($1 = 0.7487 euros) (Reporting by Ioana Patran; Writing by Radu Marinas; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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