Suzi Denton
Associate Solicitor
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Date Published:01 Jul 2019 Last Updated:23 Jul 2021

Donor anonymity and the impact of genetic testing kits

Fertility Law

Home DNA testing kits are becoming increasingly popular, with people choosing to use them for all sorts of reasons – perhaps they are curious about their ancestry, or want more information on their medical background. The use of these kits has wide
reaching implications for egg and sperm donors, donor conceived children and their parents.

Since the law changed in 2005, it is no longer possible to donate anonymously in the UK, and children who have been conceived following donation can access ‘identifying’ information about their donor (such as their name and last known address) when they reach 18.

Before the law changed in 2005, donors were able to remain anonymous, and they could only be identified if they chose to join a voluntary register.

Now that DNA testing kits are becoming more widely used, it seems that it’s not really possible to guarantee that someone will remain anonymous (either indefinitely or for a set period of time). The donor doesn’t even necessarily have to participate in any testing or be registered on a database in order to be identified by someone with a genetic match.

The decision of when and how to tell a child that they were donor conceived is something which only a parent can decide, but the advice these days is that it’s best to tell children as early as possible. Given that young people now have the tools to make genetic discoveries on their own, it’s perhaps even more important for parents to talk openly to their donor-conceived children about these issues from a young age.

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