English law provides that the woman who carries a child, and no other, is the legal mother.
If you are an egg (or embryo) donor, whether anonymously, for someone you know, or through an egg sharing scheme, you have no parental status and no responsibility for any child conceived with your eggs.
Egg donors: information rights
If you donate eggs or embryos through a licensed clinic in the UK, information about you is recorded by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). Any child conceived with your donated eggs or embryos after 1991 has rights, in later life, to access information about you:
- Your offspring can, once they reach the age of 16, find out non-identifying information about you. Their parents might also be able to access this information while their child is under 16.
- If you became a donor after 1 April 2005 (or if you choose to re-register as an identifiable donor) any child conceived with your donated eggs or embryos can also ask the HFEA for identifying information about you (including your name and address) once they reach the age of 18. They might use this information to get in touch with you. The HFEA will probably contact you if anyone makes a request for identifying information about you.
As from 1 October 2009, donors have a legal right to request certain limited information about their genetic offspring. You can apply to the HFEA to ask whether your donation was successful and, if so, whether any children born were boys or girls and the year of their birth.
Egg donors: the use and storage of your eggs
The maximum number of families who can conceive with your eggs or embryos is ten, although you can specify a lower limit. Each family you donate to can conceive more than one child using your eggs or embryos within this limit.
Your eggs or embryos can be used only within the terms of the consent that you give, and you can set whatever conditions you wish. You have the legal right to vary or withdraw your consent at any time before your eggs or embryos are placed in the body of another person. However, if you withdraw your consent in respect of an embryo, and the sperm provider does not agree, the clinic has a legal obligation to hold the embryos in storage for 12 months before destroying them to give you the opportunity to change your mind. The embryos cannot be used in treatment during this period without your consent.
Your eggs or embryos are usually stored for a maximum of ten years. Special extended storage regulations allow eggs or embryos to be stored for much longer, depending on your recipients' medical circumstances, although the rules are complex. Find out more about the extended storage rules.