Do you know your rights and responsibilities as an egg donor?

Thousands of women opt to harvest their eggs every year. Sometimes this is done for personal reasons, to preserve their fertility due to an illness or as a result of gender transition surgery. More and more often it is a personal choice to help increase the chances of pregnancy later in life when it may become more difficult to conceive. Sometimes it is for altruistic reasons to help someone they know, or perhaps even a stranger, have a family of their own. But what are the legalities when it comes to egg donation and storage? We tackle the biggest legal questions around human egg donation, below.

human egg cell

I’d like to be an egg donor; can I remain anonymous?

No. According to UK law, any child born from a donated egg or sperm that was collected through a licensed clinic has the right to know who their biological parents are. This information can be made available on request after they are 18. You should feel comfortable with this fact before agreeing to be an egg donor.

Who regulates egg donation in the UK?

Egg donation in the UK is regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). HFEA regulate fertility treatment and research at licensed clinics throughout the UK through a system of licensing, monitoring, and inspections. Their website offers information on fertility clinics alongside useful resources for couples and individuals going through or considering fertility treatment.

Can I find out when my eggs are used?

Yes. As an egg donor, you have the right to know if your donation has been used successfully, the number of children born from your donation, along with their sex and birth year. This information should be requested from the clinic where you made your donation.

Can an egg donor be paid?

An egg donor can only be paid for expenses and any donation must be given altruistically. Expenses for egg donation are usually valued at £750.00.

How many babies can be conceived using my donation?

There is no limit on the number of babies that can be conceived as a result of your donation, but there is a limit on the number of families that can be created. 10 is the maximum number of families that can be created using the eggs of a single donor. There is no limit on the amounts of times you can donate.

Will someone else be able to use my eggs?

This depends on the circumstances behind the harvesting and storage of your eggs. If you have harvested eggs for your own use in the future, then your eggs will be saved for you. However, if you donate your eggs altruistically or opt to donate any leftover eggs from your own treatment for training, research or fertility treatment, they could be used by others. You have to provide permission for your eggs to be used in this way. You can vary or withdraw this consent at any time.

Will I have any parental rights for a child born from one of my eggs to someone else?

No. In the UK, the mother of a child is always the woman who gives birth, regardless of whether the child was conceived using donated eggs.

How long will my eggs be stored for?

In some medical circumstances, eggs can be stored for up to 55 years, but the norm is 10. This time span is being debated by leading fertility experts who feel the usual timespan should be increased to 55 years as well.

Are there any age limits to donation?

Most clinics will only accept donors up to the age of 35 years unless there are exceptional circumstances. There is, though, no legal age limit to donation.

Donating your eggs can be a wonderfully rewarding experience but it’s sensible to be armed with up-to-date knowledge about your rights and responsibilities before you go ahead. Make sure to discuss any questions or concerns with your clinic before the procedure. Your doctor will be happy to provide any extra information you need.