If you were conceived between 1 August 1991 and 1 April 2005
The HFEA has a record of all births as a result of assisted conception from licensed UK fertility clinics from 1 August 1991 onwards. We record information on donors and on any children born as a result of their donation.
As a donor-conceived person, it is your legal right to find out about your genetic origins. You are entitled to contact the HFEA asking for information about your donor, and any donor-conceived siblings.
From between 1 August 1991 – 1 April 2005 this is the information the HFEA collected about donors:
- their physical description (height, weight, eye and hair colour)
- the year and country of their birth
- their ethnicity
- whether they had any children at the time of donation
- any additional information the donor choose to supply such as occupation, religion, interests and a brief self description.
Bear in mind however that not every donor will have provided all of this information. This means that there is the possibility that you will receive less information than you would like – or what you get could be very different from what you expect. We advise contacting relevant counselling and support groups before applying to the HFEA for donor information:
If you are over 16 years old, you are able to apply to the HFEA to find the anonymous information your donor provided.
There is the small possibility to make contact with your donor, once you reach 18 years old. This is only if your donor has ‘re-registered’ at their clinic or with the HFEA and provided current contact details.
Your donor-conceived genetic siblings
Donor-conceived genetic siblings are those born from sperm, eggs or embryos donated by the same donor as you.
If other people have been born as a result of your same donor, you are related to them via your donor.
If you are 16 or older you are entitled to anonymous information about any donor-conceived genetically related siblings you may have - information that doesn’t identify individuals. This excludes information about the donor’s own legal/natural children.
This information consists of:
- year of birth
- details on the number of donor-conceived siblings you have
- the sex of your siblings.
If you are 18 years or over, you will be able to find out identifying information about any donor-conceived genetic siblings, if both sides consent. Having identifying information means you will potentially be able to get in touch with and meet your genetically related donor-conceived siblings.
The information includes contact details and information on how that person would like to be contacted, rather than biographical information.
Avoiding a relationship with your donor-conceived siblings
16 year olds who intend to enter into an intimate physical relationship can submit a joint application to establish whether they are genetically related. Also, any one who intends to marry, or enter into a civil partnership may submit a joint application to establish whether they are genetically related.
The information we hold about your donor has been submitted to us by the fertility clinic where your donor registered. Every HFEA licenced fertility clinic in the UK is required to provide us with information about the people whose donated gametes will be used at a HFEA licenced clinic.
To prepare yourself for what information you might receive, download the donor information form. This is the form that donors are currently required to fill out when registering to donate.
Once you have had a chance to think how accessing information about your donor and/or donor-conceived genetic siblings could affect you, get in touch with us and start the application process:
In a small number of cases, those who were conceived between 1 August 1991 and 1 April 2005 and are 18 years old and over are able to find out identifying information about their donors – and if they wish – get in contact with them.
People who donated between 1 August 1991 and 1 April 2005, did so with the understanding that they would be anonymous – that is, they would not be able to be identified by children born as a result of their donation.
In 2005, a change in law meant that people who donated during this period have been given the ability to ‘re-register’ as identifiable.
Those that re-register consent to identifying information about themselves being passed on to children born because of their donation. This information is passed on when you, as a donor-conceived person, apply to the HFEA for information.
If your donor has re-registered as identifiable, you will be informed when you make an application to the HFEA. You will be given the choice and time to consider whether you wish to access this identifiable information.
Parents of donor-conceived people can also find out whether their donor has re-registered, although parents will not be able to access identifiable donor information.
Only a small number of donors have so far ‘re-registered’ – around 90 people as of October 2009 - keep this in mind if you apply to find information about your donor.
It is likely that more donors will continue to re-register at their clinic as they learn about the option of becoming identifiable.
Why can my donor now choose to become identifiable?
In 2005, the laws around donor information access changed. The law change meant that everyone who donated sperm or eggs after 1 April 2005 is identifiable to children born as a result of their donation, once the child is 18 years old. This means that, if requested, contact details can be passed on to people born as a result of their donation.
Because of this law change, it was felt that those who donated before 1 April 2005 should be able to re-register as identifiable if they wish.
The reason anonymity has been removed was because it was recognised by law that many donor-conceived people have a desire and an interest in finding out about where they came from. Similarly the interest donors have in finding out anonymous information about children born from their donation has been recognised.
At 11.45 on 25 July, 1978, the world’s first IVF baby was born in Manchester. 30 years later more than 12,000 babies are born after fertility treatment each year in the UK.
The HFEA was established in 1991 to oversee fertility treatment in the UK, making sure fertility clinics operate to the law. Since then the law has been amended a number of times to reflect changing opinions and an ever increasing acceptance of fertility treatment.
Legislation affecting donor-conceived people born between 1 August 1991 – 1 April 2005:
1992 – Disclosure of information Act
Allows HFEA to disclose information to others with patient´s consent, for example to their own GP.
2004 – Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (Disclosure of Donor Information) Regulations 2004/1511
Regulations allow details about egg donors and sperm donors registered after 1 April 2005 to be passed on to the offspring, including the name and last address of the donor (aka removal of donor anonymity).
2008 – Human Fertilisaion and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended)
Expanded access rights for donor-conceived people.
Donor Sibling Link
The new legislation enables the Authority to establish a sibling register, to allow donor-conceived individuals to make contact with their donor-conceived siblings, from the age of 18, on the basis of mutual consent..
From 2010, when donor-conceived people reach the age of 18, they can choose to place their contact details on a voluntary sibling contact register called Donor Sibling Link, administered by the HFEA. The HFEA will facilitate the exchange of contact details between siblings who consent to be on this register.
Consequently, it will be possible for donor-conceived adults to trace their siblings, on the basis of mutual consent, through the voluntary sibling contact register. It is not possible for parents, however, to trace their child's siblings through the voluntary contact sibling register.
Page last updated: 11 February 2011