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Sperm, egg and embryo donation review (SEED) 2005/2006


When people are unable to have children naturally this may be due to problems with the sperm or eggs that they produce.  These people can often be helped to have children by using gametes (the generic term for sperm and eggs) or from embryos that have been donated by other people. 

Following changes in the law to remove donor anonymity in 2005, the HFEA carried out a major review of its Sperm, Egg and Embryo Donation (SEED) policies.

The purpose of the review was to identify measures that would ensure an adequate, effective and safe service for those requiring treatment with donor sperm, eggs and embryos, whilst protecting the interests of those who may be born as a result.

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Consultation process

The consultation addressed the following main areas:

  • guidance on the selection and screening of donors
  • conditions limiting the use of donated gametes and embryos
  • compensation that may be given to donors
  • factors affecting the supply and distribution of donated gametes and embryos
  • factors affecting the availability of donor-assisted conception treatment

The HFEA established a SEED Review Steering Group which guided a four-phase process to the consultation:

  1.  A comprehensive survey of UK clinics on the current demand for and provision of donor treatment, to identify relevant trends
  2. A review of clinical and scientific evidence supporting current HFEA policies and guidance, including submissions by stakeholders and other interested parties
  3. Public consultation on proposals for measures to secure and promote adequate, effective and safe donor treatment services, developed in consideration of the findings of (1) and (2) above, together with a regulatory impact assessment 
  4. A report on the findings of the review, together with summary of consultation responses, to be presented to the HFEA and Department of Health in Winter 2004-05.

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Consultation outcome

The SEED Report on donor-assisted conception regulationDuring its May 2005 meeting The Authority considered the recommendations arising from the Sperm, Egg and Embryo Donation (SEED) review.  The Authority agreed the following outcomes:

  • new Directions and guidance on reasonable expenses for donors and compensation for earnings lost in connection with donation
  • revised egg sharing guidance to indicate that eggs collected in a single cycle may not be shared among more than two recipients
  • guidance on the policy change permitting individual donors to be used in the creation of 10 families
  • revised guidance on the procurement of gametes from abroad.

The SEED review and the guidance was published on the 31 January 2006 and incorporated into the 7th edition of the Code of Practice. The date for full implementation was 1 April 2006.

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Further information

Over the next few months the HFEA will be evaluating its current Sperm, Egg and Embryo Donation (SEED) policies. The outcomes of this evaluation will be taken to the December 2009 Authority meeting for discussion.  The Authority will be asked to consider the outcomes of the project and to prioritise future policy and consultation work around issues pertaining to donation.  

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SEED review documents

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Page last updated: 12 January 2012

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