The Fertility Show, London, 1-3 November 2019
Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_93077

HFEA makes first set of decisions following Donation Review

18 July 2011
Appeared in BioNews 616

The UK's fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), has made its first set of decisions following the outcome of its recent consultation on sperm and egg donation, known as the Donation Review. Having analysed responses to the Donation Review, HFEA staff asked HFEA members to approve a series of recommendations at a meeting on 13 July. All of these recommendations were ultimately approved, but in several instances the decision had to be put to a vote and there was a dissenting minority. Additionally, the wording of some of the recommendations was amended during the course of the discussion.

The most straightforward decision made by the HFEA was that the maximum number of families which a sperm or egg donor is permitted to create should not be changed, and that the current maximum limit of 10 should remain. The HFEA also resolved to take steps to encourage clinics to make optimum use of the donor sperm already available, because there is currently a disparity between the maximum number of families that that an individual donor is permitted to create and the number of families that are actually being created from the sperm of individual donors. (The precise size of and reasons for this disparity are disputed.)

The HFEA also decided to issue guidance stating that sperm and eggs should not be mixed if they come from very close genetic relatives (for example, brother and sister or father and daughter). If such mixing took place in vitro then this would not technically fall afoul of the UK's legal prohibition on incest. Such mixing is never known to have occurred, but the HFEA decided it was appropriate to issue specific guidance on the matter at this time.

The mixing of sperm and eggs of close relatives is a very different matter from the replacement of someone's sperm or eggs with sperm or eggs donated by a close relative (for instance, a man's wife being fertilised with his brother's sperm, or a woman becoming pregnant with a child conceived using an egg donated by the woman's mother). It was decided that this sort of replacement of sperm or eggs within families should remain permitted, but that 'best practice' in this area should be formulated by the HFEA, in collaboration with professionals and interest groups. It was also decided that clinics should be required to submit data about this sort of donation to the HFEA, so that its prevalence can be established.

Finally, the HFEA considered whether donors should be permitted to place conditions on the use of their sperm and eggs, and if so, then what sorts of conditionality should be permitted. For example, should a sperm donor be permitted to specify that their sperm cannot be used (or alternatively, can only be used) to treat a lesbian, or a single woman, or a woman of a particular ethnicity, religion or age? This is an area where two different parts of UK law (fertility legislation and equalities legislation) are potentially in conflict with one another, and therefore it poses a difficult problem for the HFEA.

The HFEA eventually decided to permit the placing of conditions, but to issue guidance qualifying this permission according to different contexts. This decision was made despite vocal dissension from some members, who wanted the placing of conditions to be prohibited apart from in exceptional circumstances.

The HFEA will make a further set of decisions based on the outcome of the Donation Review later this year. This next set of decisions will concern how much and what sort of compensation (financial and otherwise) sperm and egg donors should be permitted to receive for their donation.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
HFEA agrees new policies about family donation and the number of families one donor can create
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority |  14 July 2011
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
20 May 2013 - by Sandy Starr 
Should gamete donors be allowed to place conditions on who receives their donation? And should those considering having children via donor conception be encouraged to adopt instead?...
6 June 2012 - by Sarah Norcross 
A booklet full of advice and case studies, this will be a useful book for all those creating a family, as well as for those who work with them - particularly fertility counsellors...
24 October 2011 - by Dr Djuke Veldhuis 
Should women who choose their career first, and children second, be allowed to receive IVF on the NHS at an age when some would consider it 'unnatural'? Now ask whether it's acceptable for young soldiers fighting in Afghanistan to store their sperm in case they don't come back. And the questions surrounding reproductive medicine don't end there: after insemination, how much screening or manipulation of genetic material is reasonable?...
24 October 2011 - by Walter Merricks 
Perhaps the Government is right to plan to abolish the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). The astonishing behaviour of its members at last week's open Authority meeting over compensation for egg and sperm donors will lower its reputation in the eyes of some of its erstwhile supporters. Those who might have manned the barricades to halt the Government's plans may now wonder whether the Care Quality Commission (CQC) – the health and social care regulator set to take over the H...
30 September 2011 - by Dr Kamal Ahuja 
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has already made two decisions following its public consultation and review of gamete donation policies in the UK: first, intra-familial gamete donation can continue as before (subject to certain provisions); and second, the number of families which a single donor might help create remains limited to ten. The bigger question on compensation and benefit in kind to donors will not be answered until later this year...
3 May 2011 - by Professor Eric Blyth 
During its 20-year history, the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has notched up significant achievements in the regulation of assisted human reproduction that have rightly drawn respect worldwide. An important characteristic of the HFEA's approach to regulation has been its use of public consultations to inform policy development...
4 April 2011 - by Anthony Bagshawe 
In all the coverage of the recent debate about egg and sperm donation, there has been much said about whether or not egg donors should be paid. Arguments have been put forward on various points and counter claims made. However, in all this what seems to have been missed is that there are in fact two totally separate arguments which have become merged into one, namely payment and compensation...
7 March 2011 - by Alan Doran 
One of the things that makes working at the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) extremely worthwhile is we address topics that matter to many different people and groups. Unsurprisingly, there are many shades of opinion about the issues. Often, these views extend to passing judgement on our general competence and performance. The Government's proposals about the future of arm's-length bodies have added piquancy to this strand of public discussion...
31 January 2011 - by Professor Eric Blyth, Dr Marilyn Crawshaw, Dr Lucy Frith, Dr Caroline Jones and Dr Nina Martin 
While the HFEA's motivation in undertaking this review is understandable, we consider that there are significant problems with the public consultation. First, there are a number of technical problems with the presentation: the consultation appears to be unavailable to anyone without access to the Internet; the background information provided by the HFEA, ostensibly to enlighten respondents...
24 January 2011 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
The UK's fertility watchdog, the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA), has launched a public consultation on how sperm and egg donation should be regulated....
HAVE YOUR SAY
Log in to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.