Launch of the Sperm, Egg & Embryo Donation Trust (SEED)

2 May 2019

Louisa Ghevaert is delighted to attend the National Gamete Donation Trust’s twenty first birthday reception and its re-launch as the Sperm, Egg & Embryo Donation (SEED) Trust on Friday 3 May 2019 at Fertility Fest’s Big Fat Festival Day at the Barbican in London.

Every year, around 3,500 children are conceived with the help of a donor in the UK. The National Gamete Donation Trust (NGDT) and its successor SEED supports egg, sperm and embryo donors in the UK. It works with potential recipients, UK licensed fertility clinics and supports organisations to raise awareness of the need for egg, sperm and embryo donors.

The NGDT managed the UK’s Donor Conceived Register until April 2018 when responsibility for this was taken over by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and its future management put out to tender. The HFEA announced two weeks ago that the Hewitt Fertility Centre have been awarded the contract for the future management of the Donor Conceived Register and its associated counselling and DNA testing services.

The Donor Conceived Register enables anonymous donors and people conceived through anonymous donated sperm or eggs at a UK fertility clinic before 1 August 1991 (when the HFEA was set up) to exchange information and get in touch with each other. It enables anonymous donors to find out more about their donor conceived offspring. It also helps donor conceived individuals explore their genetic origins and get in touch with anonymous donors and genetic half-siblings from the same donor.

The removal of donor anonymity in April 2005 marked a step-change in donation practices in the UK. It struck a new balance for donors, parents and donor conceived children and a move away from previous thinking that donation and its genetic legacy was best kept secret. It marked the start of a new regime whereby details of donors who donate through a UK fertility clinic are recorded on the HFEA’s Register of Donor Information. This enables donor conceived individuals to apply for non-identifying information about their donor from age 16 and identifying information about their donor from age 18. It also enables donor conceived individuals to voluntarily register with the HFEA Donor Sibling Link as from age 18 in the hope they can contact donor conceived siblings.

The value of specialist fertility and family law advice

As awareness and understanding about genetics and genetic legacy grows, coupled with advancements in medical and assisted reproductive technology, donor conception brings with it a plethora of associated medical, legal and wider implications.

Specialist fertility and family law advice can provide legal and practical advice and assistance which helps prospective parents, donors, individuals and families navigate egg, sperm and embryo donation, fertility treatment and family building outcomes. It can:

  • create a bespoke family building legal and practical action plan which can help navigate egg, sperm and embryo donation, the fertility sector, help individuals understand and make better informed decisions about donor conception, family creation, genetic identity and legacy and legal outcomes in the short, medium and longer-term.
  • provide informed legal (as opposed to medical) consent to fertility treatment and donor conception at a UK fertility clinic, including: procurement, storage and use of eggs, sperm and embryos in treatment, posthumous conception and legal issues and outcomes if circumstances change or difficulties arise in practice.
  • advise on alternative family building options and legal issues if donation or fertility treatment is unsuccessful.
  • advise on complex fertility and family law issues for parents, individuals, families and donors if difficulties or a dispute arise.

Need an expert fertility lawyer or family lawyer? If you would like to discuss your situation or you require specialist fertility and family law advice and assistance please contact me by email or by telephone +44 (0)20 7965 8399.

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