Are you considering Donor option for infertility? What you need to know

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Gamete donation is of great benefit to infertile couples. Its use and acceptance however, raises a lot of ethical, religious, legal and safety concerns that need in-depth consideration before gamete donation can be used safely and effectively.

Terms & Defination

GAMETE DONATION: giving sperm, eggs, both, or embryos     

ANONYMOUS DONATION: Identity of the donor is not released.

OPEN DONATION: Donor identity can/will be revealed (known donor, open identity or identity release donor).

Donor Recruitment

As practiced in most countries- ASRM (American Society of Reproductive Medicine) or HFEA (Human Fertilization & Embryology Authority) standard;

  • Age Limit: Sperm donor -ages legal adult age – 40years oocyte donors ages 21 to 35years.

  • Physical evaluation. 

  • Comprehensive Interviews and questionnaire filling about sexual behavior and drug abuse history.

  • Family history

  • Semen analysis for sperm donors;

  • Hormone profile, AMH (Anti-mullerian Hormone).

  • Infectious screening like HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.

ABO-Rh blood typing.

  • Genetic analysis for cystic fibrosis, genotype

Understanding of the complexity of gamete donation means that all RIGHTS of the parties involved must be understood and lay down in black and white. The role of the following parties is important;

  • Donor

  • Recipient

  • Society

  • Offspring

Right of the donor

  • Treated Humanely, never condescended

  • Proper and Concise information.

  • Respect their given Consent

  • Treated with all Safety and medical ethics.

  • Respect of their confidentiality particularly in case of an anonymous donor.

  • Psychological evaluation is mandatory (in UK) to protect and ensure donors have adequate understanding and perspective of processes. And that THEY HAVE CLEAR ACCEPTANCE of having genetic children they might never know, or that could show up in their lives in the future.


The right of the Couple

Are recipients beggars that have no choices than to accept any donor e.g. the Spanish law does not allow recipient choose their donors, doctors make the choices OR are their beggars, Princes? And if they can choose to what extent is ethical enough without turning donor selection into a means of elitism or making designer babies? I think two factors are important here;

  • The right to have a healthy baby.

  • Protection from FUTURE LEGAL CLAIMS on the offspring of the donation

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The right of the society

Every society has the right to protect its pedigree and values .Hence the right to prevent accidental incest or marriage between donor siblings is an important aspect of value. For instance the following countries have various donor rules to guide against such;

In UK a maximum of 10 offspring per donor.

In China 5 offspring per donor

In the US 25 children/ 800,000 from a donor is recommended by the ASRM ( American society of reproductive medicine)

In South Africa, 6 live births (Chapter 8 on Artificial Fertilization of the National Health Act.)




The right of the offspring

Donor offspring have the right to know their genetic origin and when matured may seek out information about the donors.


Can there be any secret concealing process?

In ensuring that the rights of all the parties are considered there could be disclosure in some cases such as release of medical and genetic records and non indentifying information about the donor to the offspring. It is very important to inform donors before donation about potential disclosure to offspring and any risk this poses to their future privacy.

Recipients must also consider revealing genetic origin .The child might need to make informed health care decisions in the future. In Europe and China, disclosure principle is binding.

Is Gamete donation legally binding?

  • A donor can be sued

  • A donor can sue the donor agency or fertility clinic

  • The donor- conceived person with abnormalities can sue the donor, the fertility clinic and/or agency

  • No donor is under any financial or legal obligation to the child


Proper Consent

The HFEA law requires written informed consent

a) Before donor’s gametes are used

b) Before embryos are created with these gametes

The consent should include the number of families that may have children using their donated gametes or maximum number of children.

c) Donor must be given proper counseling and relevant information about the implications ,the pros and cons of the procedure

d) Donors can change or withdraw their consent at any time up to the point at which the gametes are used in treatment.
















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