Linking siblings and donors
In the UK, donor-conceived individuals are able to find out information about their donor from Registers, and in some cases actually make contact with genetic siblings and their donor, in a number of different ways depending on when they were conceived and what law/regulation applied at the time.
For donor conceived people conceived before August 1991 (the start of the HFEA register of donors), it is very likely that few records exist about their donor. However, they can register with UK Donor Link (see links), a voluntary sector service that aims to link them with siblings and donors who have also registered. Through UK Donor Link they can exchange non-identifying or identifying information and, if they wish, meet each other. Links are made through DNA testing (for which there is currently a charge of approximately £100). However, there is no charge for registering and professional support is also available free of charge.
For those who were conceived in a HFEA licensed clinic from August 1991 using sperm from an anonymous donor (mostly this will have been before 31st March 2006 but in certain circumstances this may have been after this date) then they can request non-identifiable information about their donor once they reach the age of 16 by applying to the HFEA. If they are over the age of 18 then they can also request information about any donor-conceived siblings and if both agree may actually make contact and meet. In a small number of cases, their donor may have re-registered his details and agreed to be identifiable in which case donor-conceived people could make contact with their donor in a similar way to as we see on the film.
Those conceived from a donor recruited after 1st April 2005 can find out non-identifiable information about their donor when they reach the age of 16 and can find out their donor’s identity when they get to the age of 18. Similarly, they can find out information about their donor-conceived siblings when they reach the age of 16 and if both sides consent can find out identifying information once they both reach the age of 18.
In any of these scenarios, the key is that a donor-conceived person is told of their origins. As described in the History section (link?), until very recently it is likely that relatively few were told, although in recent times this has been slowly changing as we have recognized how important this information is.
For a small number of donor-conceived people, they will have been conceived using sperm or eggs from a donor who was known to their parents. So called ‘Known Donation’ is becoming increasingly common in recent years and clearly in such circumstances the donor-conceived person is likely to have grown-up with the knowledge of their donor’s identity.
Donors who donated after 1st August 1991 have some rights under UK law to find out information about the number of people born as a result of their donations in addition to information about their sex and year of birth. For those who donated before this date, they must contact UK Donor Link (see links) and register themselves so that donor-conceived people may contact them by that route.