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Rules around releasing donor information

The law around releasing a sperm, egg or embryo donor’s personal information to people conceived from their donation changed in April 2005. Understand exactly what people conceived from your donation can find out about you and when.

On this page we describe what information people conceived from your donation at a licensed clinic can ask us for and when, as set out by law.

However, it’s important to know that it’s also now possible for home DNA testing and matching services, available online, to result in you being identified, regardless of when you donated.

People use these sites to find out about their ancestry, health and/or identify their genetic relatives. Many of the sites also allow users to ‘match’ and make contact with other users on their database with whom they are genetically related, often using their real names.

Even if you don’t use one of these sites yourself, if one of your close genetic relatives and someone conceived from your donation are both signed up to it, you could potentially become identifiable. Your identity could be inferred, if information about genetic ‘matches’ is combined with other publicly-available information about you (eg, information about you on social media). If you donated before 31 March 2005 you may have donated under the conditions of anonymity and expected never to be contacted by anyone born as a result of your donation. It may be a shock to realise that you could be identified or contacted by someone born from your donation.

If you donated after 1 August 1991 at a UK licensed clinic you may wish to contact us to apply for information about the number of children born from your donation. If the donation or treatment took place before August 1991, you could contact us for more information about the Donor Conceived Register. The Donor Conceived Register, run by the Hewitt Fertility Centre, helps to connect donor-conceived people who were conceived before 1 August 1991 with their donor and siblings. Regardless of when you donated, you may wish to find out about our support and intermediary service for people affected by post-donation issues.

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If you donated after 1 April 2005

If you donated sperm, eggs or embryos after 1 April 2005, people conceived from your donation will be able to find out the following information when they reach 16 and 18 years of age. This is information you will have been asked to give at the time of your donation.

Aged 16:

  • your physical description (height, weight, eye, hair and skin colour)
  • the year and country of your birth  
  • your and your parent(s)'s ethnicity  
  • whether you had any children at the time of donation, how many and their gender 
  • your marital status  
  • any relevant personal and family medical history  
  • any additional information you may have provided such as your job, religion, skills, interests, reasons for donating, a goodwill message and a personal description (if you wrote one). We will remove any information that could reveal your identity.  

 

The parent(s) of a donor-conceived person can also ask us for this information any point after the birth of their child(ren).

Aged 18:

  • your full name (now and at birth)
  • your date and town of birth
  • the most recent address we have for you
  • any other information we may have previously removed because it would have revealed your identity.

The parent(s) of a donor-conceived person can never access this information.

We’ll try to let you know before we release the information – that’s why it’s so important you keep your contact details up to date with us. We’ll talk you through the next steps, things we suggest you think about at this time and offer you support through our free and confidential support and intermediary service.

Read more on preparing for possible contact from someone conceived from your donation.

If you donated between 1 August 1991 – 31 March 2005

Anyone conceived from your donation at a clinic licensed by us between 1 August 1991 and 31 March 2005 has a legal right to ask us for information we hold, but the information we release can’t identify you; we do not give out your identity.

At 16 years of age, anyone conceived from your donation can ask us for the information you gave at the time of your donation, which includes:

  • your physical description (height, weight, eye and hair colour) 
  • the year and country of your birth 
  • your ethnicity 
  • whether you had any children at the time of donation 
  • any additional non-identifying information you chose to supply, such as your job, religion, interests and a brief self-description.

The parent(s) of a donor-conceived person can also ask us for this information at any point after the birth of their child(ren).

However, if you’d like to give people conceived from your donation the chance to find out who you are, and potentially get in touch with you, you can choose to remove your anonymity.

Find out more about removing your donor anonymity.

If you donated before 1 April 2005, no information which will identify you will be shared with people conceived from your donation. You can, however, choose to remove your anonymity if you wish.

Could my donation still have been used anonymously after 31 March 2005?

We gave clinics a transitional period whereby anonymous donations made before 1 April 2005 could still be allowed for use in treatment up until 31 March 2006, after which they could not be used in treatment except in certain exceptional circumstances. These include:

  • Where a family wished to create a sibling for their existing child(ren) using the same donor.
  • Where any stored embryos were created using sperm/eggs from an anonymous donor together with the sperm/eggs of a recipient. In this case the embryo could still be transferred to the recipient after 31 March 2006.
We don't hold any information on treatments before 1 August 1991.

We don't hold any information on treatments before 1 August 1991.

If you donated before 1 August 1991

If you donated before 1 August 1991, anyone conceived from your donation will be unable to find out any information about you through official channels.

This is because we were only set up on 1 August 1991, which means we hold no record of any fertility treatments or babies conceived from treatment before then on our secure fertility treatment database – the HFEA Register. 

If you would like to try to find out if your donation(s) were successful you can:

  • Contact the clinic you donated at (if it’s still open). In some cases the clinic may still hold your records.

Search for a clinic

  • Join the Donor Conceived Register, which tries to link people conceived before August 1991 with their donor (mainly by DNA). If there’s a match you can contact each other if you’re both happy to do so.

Why are donors no longer automatically anonymous?

Before the law was changed in 2005, we consulted widely with donor-conceived people and donors about how donor anonymity should work. We found there was a strong desire on both sides to leave the door open to potential contact if both parties wanted that.

We recognise that the prospect of being contacted by someone conceived from your donation can give rise to a lot of complex emotions.

We also give donor-conceived people the option of having a support worker on hand to act as an intermediary if they’d like to make contact with you.

Find out more about our free, confidential support and intermediary service.

Find our more about preparing for possible contact from someone conceived from your donation.

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Review date: 10 August 2022

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