Donor Conception – New laws May 2020

 In Fertility, News

Why is the 4th May 2020 important?

From that date all donor conception procedures must be carried out strictly in accordance the provisions of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 and the Regulations. 

After that date the operator of a Donor Assisted Human Reproduction (DAHR) Facility (Fertility Clinic):

  • Cannot acquire any gametes be they sperm, eggs or embryos for use in a DAHR procedure unless certain information concerning the donor is provided to the operator of the clinic
  • Is not permitted to use donated gametes (eggs, sperm, embryos) unless certain consents, as prescribed by the legislation are in place.

The main purpose of the legislation is to ensure that all children born through donor conception will be able to access information about his or her genetic makeup on reaching adulthood.

There are many people who had intended to undergo a DAHR procedure before the commencement of the new legislation but who cannot now access such treatment due to Covid-19.  If you are one of those, or if you have donor gametes  and you intend to undergo treatment  when the fertility clinics are back up and running and after the 4th May, then you need to take certain steps now otherwise you may be precluded from using these donated gametes.

If you have gametes in storage in this jurisdiction or abroad, you will need to contact the donation facility from where the gamete was obtained. You need to ascertain if it might be possible to locate the donor to see if he is willing to provide a new consent to the use of the gamete in a DAHR procedure in Ireland. He will need to be provided with certain information as set down in the legislation and a consent will be required to be signed by him. If this is not possible then, subject to two exceptions, you will not be able to use those gametes in Ireland after 4th May.

The exceptions to the rules are:

  • If you have had a child born through donor conception using gametes from an anonymous donor, and if you have more gametes from that donor in storage in this jurisdiction you will be able to use them for the purpose of providing your child with a sibling during a period of 3 years from the 4th May 2020 without the need to comply with all the requirements of the Act. This exception permits the use of anonymous gametes.
  • If you have embryos in storage here, there is no time restriction to their use.

If you have gametes in storage abroad which you wish to use under the 3-year rule or embryos you should make immediate arrangements to have them transferred to a clinic in the jurisdiction before the 4th May. If you do not then, unless you can obtain consent to their future use, you will not be permitted to transfer them to this country for use.

If you are considering having a child through donor conception it is very important to ensure that the provisions of the legislation are complied with, particularly if the birth mother and her spouse, civil partner or cohabitant wishes to be the parent of the child and registered as such on the child’s birth certificate.

Our next bulletin will provide further information on parentage of a child born through donor conception. If you need any advice on the issues raised in this article you can contact Fiona Duffy at   

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