Egg donation and the law


What is the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority?

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is the UK’s independent regulator responsible for overseeing the use of gametes (eggs and sperm) and embryos in fertility treatment and research.

Will I be a legal parent of a child conceived using my donated eggs?

All UK-based clinics licensed by the HFEA must conform to strict medical, legal and ethical standards. If you donate your eggs through one of these clinics to an unknown recipient, you will not be the legal parent of any child born as a result of your donation. This means you will have no legal connection to the child and you won’t be named on the birth certificate. You will not have any rights over how the child will be brought up, and you will have no financial obligations.

If you know the recipient, the issue of legal parentage may be more complex, and whether you will be a legal parent depends on the particular circumstances of the arrangement. If you are planning to donate your eggs to someone you know, it’s sensible to seek legal advice to ensure you understand how your plans may impact on your legal parental status.

Is egg donation anonymous?

  • No, it’s no longer possible to donate eggs anonymously in the UK. Since 2005, all egg donors in the UK must agree to be identifiable to any person conceived from their donation.
  • When the child reaches the age of 16, they can ask the HFEA for non-identifying information about you (such as a physical description, your year of birth and medical history).
  • When the child reaches the age of 18, they are entitled to identifying information from the HFEA about you, including your name and last known address.
  • The recipients of the donation can ask the HFEA for non-identifying information about you at any time, and they can pass these details on to their child whenever they like.
  • The recipients can also find out how many other children have been born following your donations, their gender and year of birth.

When can I ask for information about my donation and what details will I receive?

Any time following your donation, you have a right to find out:

  • if your donation has been successful;
  • the number of children born as a result of your donation; and
  • the gender and year of birth of any children born following your donation.

How many children could have been born from my donation?

There isn’t a limit as such on the number of children that can be born, but a maximum of 10 families can be created from your donation(s). Unless you are donating exclusively to one recipient, it’s possible that in one donation cycle alone, your eggs will be shared between two or three recipient women. Once your eggs have been fertilised and become embryos it’s possible that the embryos might be frozen and stored for later use by those recipients. This could mean that more than one child is born from your donation in the same family. It’s also possible that your recipient family may wish to donate their frozen embryos if they decide not to use them.

You will be asked for your consent for the number of families that can be created from your donations. You have the right to limit this to any number you want. You cannot increase the number of families beyond 10.

More information on the legal issues mentioned above can be found on these websites: