Egg Donation

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Egg Donation

Egg donation opens up the possibility of conceiving a child to women who are unable to use their own eggs, and single men and male couples who wish to build their family through surrogacy. 

Unlike sperm donation, it is only possible to obtain a donor egg from a fertility clinic. The egg donor will undergo a procedure akin to IVF in order to produce eggs for donation. It is possible to conceive using a donor egg from either a known or anonymous donor.

Our experienced solicitors can help with any legal issues relating to egg donation, including becoming an egg donor, drafting a donation agreement or helping you to resolve any disputes involving donors.

To speak to a solicitor about any matters relating to egg donation, contact JMW today by calling 0345 872 6666 or filling in our online enquiry form and we will get back to you.

Becoming a Parent Through Egg Donation

Whether you are in a relationship, or planning to become a single parent by choice, there are important factors to consider when deciding if using a donor egg is right for you.  

Women Using a Donor Egg

A woman who gives birth to a child is always treated as his or her mother from birth, whether or not a donor egg has been used. Conception with donor eggs is only possible via IVF treatment, so it will always take place in a clinic setting. 

If the clinic is licensed in the UK, the woman’s male or female spouse/civil partner will be treated as the child’s father or second female parent, whether or not donor sperm has also been used (provided the proper consents have been obtained). The woman’s unmarried partner - whether male or female - will also be treated as the child’s father or second female parent, as long as certain conditions have been fulfilled.

If a single woman undergoes fertility treatment at a clinic using a donor egg, she will be treated as the child’s mother. In those circumstances, a child having a second legal parent will depend on a number of circumstances, including whether the donor was known or unknown, and whether the mother was expressly treated as a single parent or not. 

Since 2005, donor-conceived individuals have been able to trace their sperm and/or egg donors provided certain conditions are met.

Men Wishing to Conceive Using Donor Eggs

Single men and male couples can build their family through surrogacy using a donor egg, provided the sperm of an intended father is also used. The woman who gives birth to a child is always treated as his or her mother from birth. However, legal parenthood can be transferred to a single intended father or two intended fathers afterwards if the birth has taken place as part of a surrogacy agreement.

Types of Donation

It is a very personal decision whether to use a donor egg from a known or anonymous donor.

Using an anonymous donor

Fertility clinics vary as to how donors are recruited and what options there are for selecting a donor according to particular characteristics (e.g. ethnicity, occupation, physical features). There can also be differences as to cost and the availability of imported, rather than UK eggs.

The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) provides more information on the rules around releasing donor information here.

Finding out about an anonymous donor

Since 1991, the HFEA has maintained information about donors, and up to 31 March 2005, this did not include identifying information.

Children conceived with donor eggs after 1 April 2005 are entitled to ask the HFEA for prescribed non-identifying information about the donor from the age of 16. Parents can apply for this information on their children’s behalf before this time. From the age of 18, donor-conceived people are permitted to ask the HFEA for the donor’s name, date of birth and last-known address.

Please note that if treatment took place after 1 April 2005, using eggs donated before this date and stored for later use, the donor will remain anonymous.

It is a matter for the donor-conceived person whether they choose to make contact with a donor. There are also options provided by the HFEA for making voluntary connections with genetic half-siblings, including to check whether a donor-conceived person is genetically related to a potential partner. Neither form of contact will affect the legal parentage of the donor-conceived person for any purpose, including entitlement to financial support, inheritance and nationality or citizenship.

Using a known donor

If you are considering using a known donor of eggs and/or sperm, we recommend that the intended parent(s) and the donor(s) enter into a donation or co-parenting agreement. 

Disputes between parents and known donors do occasionally arise. A good donation or co-parenting agreement should anticipate potential problems, which so often arise out of a breakdown in communication or a lack of clarity early on about respective roles and expectations. If an issue does arise, we can help you resolve matters and, if needs be, represent you if the court needs to be involved.

Becoming a donor

Donating eggs offers you the chance to change someone’s life by enabling them to become a parent. We can help you make an informed decision about your options and the legal implications of each donation route.

Donating to a fertility clinic as an anonymous donor

If you donate to a clinic, you will have no link with children conceived using your egg while they are under the age of 18. 

Becoming a known donor

You may agree to enter into a donation arrangement with an individual or couple whose identity you know. They could be from your friendship group, extended family or a donor-matching organisation.

A known egg donor will not be the child’s legal mother. Nevertheless, the birth mother and any spouse or partner can agree that the donor will play an ongoing role in the child’s life.

We would advise anyone who is entering into a known donor arrangement to enter into a donation or co-parenting agreement, even if the donor will not be the child’s legal parent. 

Disputes Involving Known Donors

If things do go wrong, a known donor or co-parent can apply to the court to make a decision about any substantive dispute regarding the upbringing of the child, including who the child lives with and when, who they have contact with and what format that contact should take. 

A known egg donor who is not the child’s legal parent or does not otherwise have parental responsibility for them will have to apply to the court for permission or “leave” to make an application. The court will assess whether a donor asking for leave to apply should be allowed to make a substantive application. The court will consider:

  • The nature of the planned application
  • The applicant’s connection with the child. A donor with no involvement in the child’s life is less likely to be granted leave than someone who has played an active role 
  • Any risk of harm to the child attributable to the disruption that could be caused by the application

The court will decide any application in accordance with what is in the child’s best interests, balancing the need to maintain the stability of the child’s intended family unit with the potential advantages of their genetic parent being involved in their life.

Talk to us

To speak to an expert solicitor about any aspect of egg donation, whether you are looking for a donor or wish to donate your eggs, contact JMW today by calling 0345 872 6666. Alternatively, fill in our online enquiry form and we will get back to you.