HFEA agrees new family donations policies and limits on family numbers.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has made two important decisions in relation to donation policies. This followed a comprehensive review and a three-month public consultation.

Family donations
Donation between family members can take two forms:

 - where the eggs and sperm are mixed between close genetic relatives (for example, a brother and sister); or

- where the eggs or sperm are received from a relative to be used in place of their own eggs or sperm (for example, a woman donating eggs to her infertile sister).

However, the HFEA stated it does not know of any cases in the UK of close genetic relatives mixing their eggs and sperm. If such a thing were ever requested, clinics would be able to use existing safeguards to refuse. However, the HFEA was concerned there is no explicit ban on this kind of donation.

The HFEA agreed to introduce guidance for clinics telling them not to mix the sperm and eggs of close genetic relatives.

The Authority decided that the second form of family donation, which does take place in UK clinics, is handled well by clinics, and agreed to work with professional bodies to produce best practice guidelines.

The HFEA has also decided to require clinics to submit data on family donation so that a more accurate picture of its prevalence could be established.

Family limits

The family limit refers to the number of families a single donor can help to create, which the Authority decided to keep at the current limit of 10.

Whilst raising the limit may have increased the availability of donor sperm, there was little call to raise it.

The Authority was persuaded by views expressed during the consultation that, for psychological reasons, a limit should be placed on the number of possible siblings that a donor-conceived person could expect to have.

There is also a perception that a higher family limit would risk two genetically related siblings entering into a relationship without knowing they were related (although the actual risk of this remains very low).

Read more at: