Sperm donors should be id'd as 'soon as baby is born'

Sperm and egg donors should be identified as soon as the baby is born with children not having to wait until they are 18 to identify their biological parents, fertility watchdog says

  • Watchdogs say age a child can find their biological parent should be lowered 
  • Currently children born from fertility clinics must wait until they’re 18 

Sperm and egg donors could soon be identified as soon as the child is born, if proposed changes to the law suggested by a watchdog are approved.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has argued that laws regarding the identification of donors should be updated so donor information is available immediately after birth – should the donor choose.

Currently children born from sperm or egg donations must wait until they are 18 to find out any information on their biological parents.

Parents seeking fertility treatment would have to decide whether to select a donor who was identifiable before their child turned 18 under the new laws.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has argued that laws regarding the identification of donors should be updated

Under new proposals children born from sperm or egg donation would be able to find out their biological parents before they’re 18

The HFEA stressed that in the event of a law change their must be a legal requirement on clinics to ensure donors and parents understand the risks of the child discovering their biological parents on DNA testing websites.

It’s thought that around 60,000 people use fertility clinics in the UK every year.

The fertility watchdog also requested more power to regulate any ‘add on treatments’ offered by clinics which can often needlessly cost patients thousands in extra bills.

Last year the Competition and Markets Authority warned that fertility clinics were failing to provide information about the evidence for, or risks associated with, treatment add-ons.

It said the add-ons can cost up to £2,500 per cycle.

The new HFEA consultation document states: ‘Some activities marketed as fertility treatments, but not covered by the Act, take place outside of HFEA licensed clinics.

‘Some of these services might be in ‘wellness’ clinics, or they might be offered by introduction services advertised online.

‘From the perspective of the patient going through fertility treatment it is all part of their ‘treatment journey’ and the HFEA should have powers in these areas.’

Around 60,000 people in  the UK make use of fertility clinics every year 

It also asked for ‘broader powers to address fertility services outside licensed fertility clinics’ and the option to fine badly performing clinics.

It also said that fertility clinics should share patient records between GPs and fertility clinics.

HFEA chairwoman Julia Chain said: ‘Much of the fertility law has stood the test of time remarkably well but modern fertility practice, emerging possibilities in research that could benefit patients and the changing expectations of donors and of families, are not reflected in the sector’s 30-year-old law.

‘The HFE Act is the cornerstone of fertility regulation enforced by the HFEA to ensure clinics provide services to patients that are safe and of a high standard; we are uniquely positioned to see where the law works well and where it doesn’t.

‘With input from an expert advisory group, we have identified where the law needs to be modernised in the interests of patients and their families.

‘This includes providing more up to date powers for inspecting and regulating fertility clinics in the interests of patients and greater choice around donor anonymity.

‘However, it’s important to note that any decision to update the law is for the Government and ultimately Parliament to decide.’

She added: ‘There is great care being offered in both the NHS and private sector.

‘But the enforcement powers we currently have – suspending or removing a licence – are too slow and blunt.

‘We need a more agile and gradual approach like other regulators which help shape clinic behaviour and address serious non-compliance quickly.’

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