16 October 2012


Past items in this blog have noted debate about anonymity, adoption and release of information about the gamete donors.

The 55pp 'A Cross-Jurisdictional Study of Regulatory Requirements and Practice Regarding the Recording of Donor Information and Its Release to Donor Conceived People' by Sonia Allan reports on
part of the author’s ongoing research [supported by the Churchill Trust] on psycho-social, ethical and legal issues regarding the release of identifying and non-identifying information about donors to donor conceived people where assisted reproduction has been used. The author traveled to a number of jurisdictions (the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Austria, and the United Kingdom) that require the recording and release of such information (i.e. they require non-anonymous gamete donation) and interviewed practitioners, regulators and other persons regarding regulatory approaches and practices. 
In particular, the project examined:
  1. what the law in each jurisdiction provides; 
  2. the practice of recording information about the donor and releasing such information to donor conceived people or the recipient parent(s);
  3. information regarding what underlies the law; how well it had been received; and any aspects of the law or practice that might be improved according to those who were implementing it. 
Some further research was also conducted on other jurisdictions and is briefly included at the end of the report. Recommendations regarding regulation and practice are made.
Dr Allan comments that -
This report has focused upon countries where the recording of information about gamete donors in assisted reproductive technology and release of that information to donor conceived people upon request, is required by law. Its primary focus was to consider how the law is implemented and to evaluate the extent to which practice supports access to information. 
The countries surveyed ranged from having comprehensive registry and support systems in place for people wishing to exchange information and who might wish to have contact, to jurisdictions that leave information release to the clinics and do not provide specifically for any support services. 
The author was particularly impressed by the services provided by UK DonorLink in the United Kingdom, and FIOM in the Netherlands. These establishments provide positive models for how donor linking may work, the use of DNA testing to increase certainty about the possibility of being genetically related, and the intermediary services that may be provided to support those engaged in searching for information. It was noted that the intermediary services provided by these establishments went well beyond emphasizing genetic relatedness. They supported people in obtaining information, in managing their expectations (for example where contact was or was not desired), and in making connections. Sometimes, those connections went well beyond those who were genetic relatives and included other donor conceived people, donors and recipient parents who shared common experiences.