30 August 2005
ByAppeared in BioNews 323
A new register for gamete donors and donor offspring has been launched in New Zealand. The register will enable people conceived through the use of donor sperm, eggs or embryos to have the chance to find out about their genetic origins. The Human Assisted Reproductive Technology (HART) register was set up by the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Act 2004, which came into force in full last week.
The register, which was launched last week, has been established to record all future births resulting from donated reproductive tissue used at fertility clinics. It will also allow people who have donated in the past, and offspring already born from donation, to register voluntarily, allowing their genetic relatives to find out about them. Brian Clarke, the registrar-general of births, deaths and marriages in New Zealand, said that the chance of linking donors to offspring would be greater the more people registered.
The information contained on the HART register will only be available to those to whom it concerns, as well as to medical professionals if needed for medical reasons. Registering for the service will cost nothing, but some fees are attached to some access to the information. 'The HART register aims to give people who were donor-conceived the opportunity to find out about their donors, and also allow donors to find the people who were conceived with the assistance of their donation', said Mr Clarke, adding that access will be 'carefully controlled'.
In the UK, a voluntary register, funded by the Department of Health and called UK DonorLink that enables people conceived in the UK using donated eggs, sperm or embryos to contact their donors and biological half-siblings, was set up in April 2004. It was created following campaigns by donor-conceived people asking to be able to find out more about their biological origins. A year after its launch, UK Donorlink reported successful matches of ten adults in their 40s and 50s with their half-siblings. The registry can be used by anyone over the age of 18. It offers genetic testing to match offspring with donors, and other biologically related offspring who are also registered with the service.