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The End of Anonymous Gamete Donation

Aug 05, 2019
When donating through a registered clinic in the UK the donor has the option to tick the ‘anonymous’ box on application. This should mean that their identity is never revealed to the family or child on the other side of the process. 

New 2019 guidelines to medical professionals dealing with gamete and embryo donation call into question whether ticking this box can still give any assurance to the donors.  

The ready availability of direct-to-consumer DNA tests has revolutionised the ability of individuals to identify their genetic ancestry quickly and affordably. The genetic match identified does not even have to be listed on the DNA database, but can be identified through jigsaw identification. The first reported case of this occurring made the headlines nearly 15 years ago. 

The new guidance, updated to reflect the changing times states that: ‘in other words, donor anonymity in cross donation is no longer necessarily guaranteed.’  And they refer to the ‘lack of control’ that donors and their families face over their identification.

The guidelines firmly recommend that donors access non-medical ‘implications’ counselling, on the basis that they should assume that they might be identified without their consent in the future. 

The guidance goes on to reiterate the HFEA Code of Practice, which states the importance of early disclosure to the child by their parents about their genetic make-up to avoid the child finding out on their own some years later with a lack of support. 

Being identified doesn’t affect a donor’s legal status in relation to the child, but if there an expectation that a donor might, at some point, have contact with the child, it is a good idea to set out everyone’s understanding and expectations at the beginning. 

If you need advice about rights in relation to donor-conceived children please contact our legal experts in the Family department.

Francesca Davey

About the author

Francesca Davey

Francesca joined Nockolds in September 2018 and is an Associate in our Family Law Team, working from our London office. 

Francesca advises on all aspects ...

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