Going Abroad For Embryo Donation

Embryo donation in UK clinics is regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in accordance with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. The rules around who can be an embryo donor in the UK are very strict to protect you as the recipient, the donor-conceived child and the donors.

Usually in the UK embryo donation takes place after someone has completed their family using IVF and wants to donate any remaining frozen embryos or has decided not to continue with treatment and wants to donate their frozen embryos.

Embryo donors in the UK must:

  • be between the ages of 18 and 35 (female partner/donor) and 18 and 45 (male partner/donor)
  • be free from transmissible diseases
  • have no personal or family history of inheritable disorders
  • have no higher risk of transferring a prion-related disease
  • have two or more embryos in storage
  • agree to be registered with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) as donors and be willing to be known to any child born following their donation
  • not knowingly leave out any relevant information which could affect the health of any children born as a result of their donation
  • receive implications counselling
  • NOT receive payment for donating other than compensation for expenses (£35 per clinic visit and possible reimbursement of storage costs).

Additionally, embryo donors in the UK can only donate to up to 10 families.

The reasons for such controls are to provide a safe donation environment for all the parties involved so that everyone’s physical and emotional health is protected, and also to offer a clear legal framework around parenthood.

Going abroad for embryo donation

If you’re considering going abroad for embryo donation then it’s important to be aware of the following factors and how they might impact on you and your child’s physical and emotional wellbeing:

  • lack of stringent HFEA regulation governing donation in the country of origin. Often there is no regulation or it’s very different from the HFEA system
  • embryos are often deliberately created from anonymous egg donors and anonymous sperm donors who have no connection with one another
  • donor screening tests, and personal and family medical history are often not investigated as thoroughly
  • an absence of counselling for the donors may mean that they are less aware of the implications of their donation
  • anonymous donation means your donor-conceived child will be unable to make connections with their donors or half siblings
  • an absence of robust recording systems in some countries means that even if embryo donors are willing to be identifiable, the information may not be available when you want it
  • often the decision as to which donated embryo to use is doctor led rather than patient led
  • depending on where your donated embryo is from your donor-conceived child will likely have very different features and genetic origins from you and your family.