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Dear Colleague

Update on Special Directions on the Import of Gametes

Following the review of sperm, egg and embryo donation (SEED Review) guidance was issued to all licensed centres last year. This guidance also applies to gametes obtained from donors outside the UK. Consequently, the Authority expects centres applying to import gametes or embryos created using donated gametes to confirm and, if necessary, provide evidence, that the gametes or embryos to be imported have met the same quality, safety and ethical standards as expected of gametes or embryos donated in the UK.

After the Government's decision to remove donor anonymity, some clinics have reported difficulty in recruiting sperm donors in the UK and are increasingly asking the HFEA to allow sperm to be imported. The Authority, after consultation with the Licensed Centres Panel, the British Fertility Society and the National Gamete Donation Trust, will review this situation in depth at its meeting in September. Revised guidance will be issued following this review.

In the meantime, I am writing to inform you that the Authority will usually only permit sperm to be imported if the centre can demonstrate that the donated sperm has met the same standards as sperm donated in the UK. This includes that the donor has only received reimbursement of their expenses incurred in connection with donation and demonstrable compensation for loss of earnings, but not for other costs or inconvenience, up to an overall limit of £250 (or the equivalent in local currency) for each ´course' of sperm donation.

The import of sperm is authorised at the discretion of the Authority, on a case by case basis. Before a patient considers purchasing sperm from overseas centres should inform them that the Authority usually only permits donor sperm to be imported if it has been donated under conditions that meet UK standards.

Revised application forms for Special Directions to import gametes and embryos and to export embryos are enclosed with this letter. These forms should be used with immediate effect.

I hope this clarifies the current position but if you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact Dr Chris O'Toole at chris.otoole@hfea.gov.uk.

Yours sincerely,
Angela McNab
Chief Executive



Page last updated: 24 August 2012