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Donating your embryos

If you’ve had fertility treatment, you may have frozen embryos which you decide not to use yourself. If you'd prefer not to discard them, you could think about donating them to someone else's treatment, fertility research or training. Find out more about donating your embryos.

I don’t want to discard my embryos, what are my options?

If you’d prefer not to discard your embryos you have three options. You can donate them to a woman or couple who need them and who otherwise might not be able to have a much longed-for family. In the case of the woman, using a donated embryo allows her to experience pregnancy, which she wouldn’t be able to have with other options like adoption.

Your other options are to donate your embryos to research into infertility and genetic diseases or for use in training. There are strict rules around using embryos for research.

Find out more about donating to research

Can I donate embryos that have been created with donor sperm or eggs?

It depends on what the egg or sperm donor originally consented to and whether their donation has already been given to the maximum of 10 families for treatment purposes. You should speak to your clinic about whether this might be an option.

Who’s eligible to donate their embryos?

If you’re donating to research or training purposes then there are no eligibility criteria. If you’re donating to someone’s treatment then most clinics require the egg donor to be between 18 and 35 years old and the sperm donor between 18 and 41. In exceptional circumstances a clinic may accept donors outside this age bracket.

You’ll also need to go through the same health checks that any other sperm or egg donor would have. These are to reduce the risk of passing on medical conditions to any resulting child.

Find out more about donating your eggs

Find out more about donating your sperm

You and your partner (if you have one) would also need to sign relevant consent forms and you’ll be offered counselling to make sure you’re completely happy with your decision.

Find out more about giving consent

Download our leaflet Giving consent: a guide for donors

If I’m donating to someone else’s treatment, can I do so anonymously?

If you’re donating to someone else’s treatment then no. A change in the law in 2005 means that anyone conceived with the help of a donor can ask for their donor’s name, date of birth and last known address when they turn 18. Not everyone will ask for their donor’s details though or will decide to contact them.

Find out more about the rules around releasing donor information

Do I have any legal rights and responsibilities for children conceived from my donation?

No; providing you donate through a licensed UK fertility clinic you'll have no legal rights or responsibilities to children conceived from your donation. You’ll have no say over their upbringing and won’t be required to pay anything towards their care.

However, children born from your donation will be able to contact you when they reach 18. It’s up to you whether you want to have any kind of relationship with them at that point.

Writing a personal description and goodwill message can be very helpful to both parents of donor-conceived children and donor-conceived people themselves in the years to come. Download the leaflet on the right for advice on how to do this. 

What can I find out about any children conceived with my donation?

You can find out:

  • the number of children born
  • their gender
  • their year of birth.

We can’t give you any information that would potentially identify the children conceived with your donation.  

What if I change my mind?

You can change your mind about donating your embryos at any time up to the point your sperm is used in someone’s treatment. This is true even if you’ve given written consent.

Find out more about giving consent

What compensation is available?

You may be able to receive up to £35 for each subsequent clinic visit you make, for example to travel to screening tests. Talk to your clinic about what’s available.  

What about the emotional impact of donating my embryos?

Before you donate your embryos your clinic is required by law to offer you counselling. This will be an opportunity for you to think about questions like how and when to talk to your own children about your donation, and how you’ll feel if any children conceived from your donation get in touch with you in the future. 

Find out more about getting emotional support

Can I find out if my donation has been successful?

Yes, your clinic should be able to tell you if the woman or couple you've donated to has become pregnant.

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Review date: 9 November 2020

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