First results from HFEA egg and sperm donation review

The HFEA has been reviewing the rules for egg and sperm donation in the UK and has announced its first set of decisions this month.

The basic news so far is that little is set to change.  There will be no change to the current rule allowing donors to place any conditions on how their eggs and sperm are used.  This decision could cause conflict between fertility and equality legislation, as donors remain free to say that their eggs or sperm can only be given to recipients who are married, heterosexual or of a particular religious or ethnic background.  In response to objections, the HFEA has said it plans to issue further guidance, as well as to establish a ‘best practice’ concerning the taking of consent from donors.

The HFEA has also confirmed that the maximum number of families a single donor can help to create will remain at 10 (some had called for recruited donors to be used more widely, although others expressed concerns about the numbers of genetically related children who might be created from the same donor).  The HFEA will, however, encourage clinics to optimise use of donors since at the moment it seems that more families could be created within the existing limits.

We await the outcome of the review in respect of payments to donors, a decision on which is expected in October.  Currently donors can only receive their out of pocket expenses and loss of earnings limited to £250 per donation cycle, and no payments for inconvenience or discomfort are permitted.  The  HFEA is considering whether the £250 cap should be increased, or other types of payments allowed, as they are in many other countries.

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