How the process works
All potential donors are psychologically counselled and thoroughly screened for a range of infectious diseases including HIV, Hepatitis, Syphilis, and Cystic Fibrosis. They are also asked to give as much detail about themselves as possible, such as education, likes and dislikes, etc. so that recipients can make an informed choice. The HFEA has strict rules which state that donors should not profit from their donation.
Prospective recipients are also carefully screened to ensure that the woman is healthy and able to successfully undergo pregnancy. This process will also help determine the levels of hormones required to create optimum conditions for implantation. They too will be counselled to ensure they understand the consequences of the treatment.
In the case of egg donation, the cycle of the recipient will be synchronised with that of the donor, so that she’s at the right stage to receive the eggs quickly once they’ve been produced by the donor and fertilised in the lab using her partner’s sperm.
Sperm is frozen on donation and kept in quarantine for six months before use as an extra precaution against infectious diseases.
In all other ways, the process is exactly the same as standard IVF treatment.
When donor sperm or eggs are used, UK law states that the woman who gives birth is the legal mother of the child and her husband or partner is the legal father. The donor has no legal rights nor owes any obligations to the child.
Donations made through clinics will be subject to a standard contract that legally binds all parties to this agreement. However, if you intend to use a friend or relative, you’re advised to draw up your own contract with the help of a solicitor.
Recent changes in the law give donor offspring the right to access information about their genetic parent when they reach 18 years old.
The cost of donor eggs and sperm
Using donated eggs or sperm can be a highly expensive process, costing anything from £6,500 to £8,000. A shortage of donors can also mean a long wait – with the waiting list in the UK currently around two years.
Around forty UK clinics offer egg-sharing programmes to reduce the cost of IVF. Couples with healthy eggs donate some of them to compatible recipients, who in return, fund all or part of their treatment.