A voluntary register to enable people conceived using donated eggs, sperm or embryos to contact their donors and biological half-siblings is to be launched in the UK. The registry, called UK DonorLink, will be piloted early next year, and will be available to anyone over the age of 18. It will offer genetic testing to match offspring with donors and other biologically related offspring who are also registered with the service.
Since the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act was passed in 1990, which required that such births are registered, over 18,000 people have been born in the UK following the use of donated embryos or gametes. An estimated 12,000 people were conceived with donor egg or sperm before then. The new register is being established as a pilot by the charity After Adoption Yorkshire, following an announcement made by former Public Health Minister, Hazel Blears, in January 2003. 'The team at UK DonorLink is committed to ensuring that this register is shaped by the needs of donor conceived people and their families, as well as by donors and their relatives' said project manager Lyndsey Marshall.
The UK's Department of Health announced in January 2001 that it would be reviewing the legislation covering the information available to people conceived through egg, sperm or embryo donation. It said the review would consider several options, including allowing donor offspring access to non-identifying information such as hair and eye colour, releasing details of the health records and medical history of donors, and giving donors the opportunity to make their name and address available to any future offspring on request. It stressed, however, that any change in the law would not be retrospective. In January 2003, it said it would be considering the issues for another six months, but has not yet made any further announcements.