Since we opened our doors more than 35 years ago, we've helped welcome more than 8,000 babies to the world, many of whom were born with the assistance of an egg or sperm donor. At Manchester Fertility, we always strive to encourage and support our patients and their families no matter where they are in their fertility journey – even if they have long since left our care.
What is Changing for Donors and Donor-Conceived People in 2023?
In October 2023, the UK will see the first wave of donor-conceived people accessing specific, identifiable information about the donor involved in their conception since the change in legislation in April 2005 removing donor anonymity.
Since this change in legislation, all UK-based donors have been required to provide identifiable information, such as name, last known address, date of birth and place of birth. It is this information that donor-conceived people can choose to access through our regulators, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) once they turn 18. With this information, they may attempt to contact the donor involved in their conception.
If you are a donor, you may already be preparing for the release of your information. If you are donor-conceived you may be considering whether or not you wish to access information about the sperm or egg donor involved in your conception. What is important to remember is that no matter which side of the process you’ve experienced, we’re always here to offer support and signpost useful resources to help you.
Do Donors Need to Update Their Contact Information?
Yes! If you are a donor and have new contact details, we need you to update these with Manchester Fertility or our associated egg and sperm banks, Manchester Donors and Semovo. We can then sign you to relevant support, and update your details with HFEA, who hold the central register of donors used in the UK. HFEA will attempt to inform donors if or when a child conceived from their donation accesses their identifying, in order to prepare them for potential contact from a donor-conceived person. This will be with using the donor’s last known contact details on the HFEA register, so if your contact details are not up to date you will not be informed that an application has been made for your details, and therefore would be unprepared for contact.
If you are a donor, but not with one of our partner clinics, we suggest you contact the clinic you donated with to update your contact details so they too can provide you with access to more in-depth support, and so you are made aware of when a donor-conceived child may reach out.
If your contact details are not updated, you're less likely to be prepared for potential contact by the official channel. You are more likely to be contacted by a donor-conceived child directly, with no prior warning, through alternative channels, such as social media or commercial DNA testing websites. These sites do not require you yourself to have had the DNA test. A relative of yours can provide a link between yourself and a donor-conceived person. Updating your contact details will allow you to prepare and access the support you need, as you'll be informed if or when a child conceived from your donation accesses the information you have provided by the HFEA.
What Support is Available?
As an award-winning fertility clinic, we always strive to offer our patients the best support, both past and present. If you are someone who donated gametes with Manchester Fertility or underwent your fertility treatment at our clinic, you can reach out to us with any questions you may have on the upcoming release of identifiable donor information. You can contact our friendly team on 0161 300 2730 or request a call-back via our website.
In addition to our own expertise, if you are a donor or a donor-conceived person, here are some resources you may want to consider reading to help you process and prepare for the release either this year or in the future:
- HFEA: Apply for Information About Your Donor
- HFEA: Apply for Information About Children Conceived from Your Donation
- HFEA: Preparing to access non-identifying information about your donor and donor-conceived genetic siblings
- HFEA: Preparing to exchange contact details with your donor-conceived genetic siblings
You can also access specialist resources and information from organisations and charities, such as:
- The Sperm, Egg and Embryo Donation (SEED) Trust provides impartial advice, support and information to prospective donors, intended parents and surrogates.
- The British Infertility Counselling Association (BICA) has details of counsellors with expertise in supporting people dealing with issues around infertility, including donor conception.
- For advice about other counselling services in the UK, contact the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. Your GP should also be able to refer you to a counsellor on the NHS.
- The Counselling Directory is a comprehensive database of UK counsellors and psychotherapists.
If you are the parent of a donor conceived child, the HFEA provides a wealth of resources and advice for those considering talking to their child about their origins, but the core information you'll need can be found on their website here. If you need help to make this decision or are struggling to engage your family in discussion, the HFEA recommends contacting the DCN for advice.
Today is International Donor Conception Awareness Day (IDCAD). The event, celebrated annually on April 27th, sheds light on families created through reproductive medicine and donor gametes, to raise awareness about the experiences of donor-conceived people and to educate donors, those who were donor-conceived and the loved ones of donor-conceived individuals on how egg and sperm donation may impact them throughout their lives.
This year, IDCAD would like to encourage donor-conceived people and their families to engage in open conversation about their origins. For more information on IDCAD and this year’s theme of truth & transparency visit the official website.
Will There Be More Support Available in the Future?
As the year progresses, more support and resources will be released to the public – both by the HFEA, charitable organisations like the SEED Trust and DCN and registered fertility clinics. As experts in what we do, we will endeavour to keep you up to date with the latest advice and resources that donor-conceived people, donors and their respective families need. Again, we encourage you to reach out to us with any questions you may have through our friendly team on 0161 300 2730 or request a call-back via our website.
Last updated: 27th April 2023