The matter of matching egg donors and egg recipients is of great interest to many involved in the field of egg donation. There seems to be a wide spectrum of opinion about how much information should be available to egg recipients and also on how specifically their requests can, or should be, met in terms of finding a close match with either physical or psychological characteristics.
There is also much confusion over the extent to which certain traits can be predicted on genetic criteria, For instance, although eye colour is governed by genes, the process is very complex and it is not simply the case that blue eyed parents will produce blue eyed children.
Currently, in the UK as a whole, little information is given to recipient couples about their egg donors and we suspect that this is because most egg donation is in fact egg sharing carried out at busy clinics. It takes a considerable amount of time, effort and reassurance to gather this information from a donor, as it is asking them to offer a significant degree of personal information upon which they may possibly be judged, assessed and either accepted or rejected by a couple. So it is no small thing to expect a donor to provide such intimate insights. Recipients in the US have access to detailed information, but only because donors are paid significant amounts of money to donate eggs. It is felt justified therefore to ask for such information without stepping over the mark on the basis that if you are paying someone so much they in turn should be prepared to offer this extra detail.
The attached clip is a recording from a discussion on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour hosted by Jenni Murray on 23rd January 2013. The discussion is between Olivia Montuschi, from the Donor Conception Network, and Professor Marcus Pembrey, Founding Chair of Trustees at the Progress Educational Trust (PET). They discuss the ins and outs of choosing egg and sperm donors on the basis of selected characteristics, and they outline the complexities of genetic inheritance and the likely underlying motives of those requiring donor gametes in order to create a family.
At Altrui, because of the way that we work, we are able to give recipients more information about their donor than anyone else in the UK. The information that we provide is fairly detailed, although non-identifying, with a photograph of the donor as child and with their own personally written profile about themselves. The point of this is, as Olivia Montuschi says, partly for couples to feel quite comfortable with their donor but, more importantly, it gives parents the information to talk to the child about their donor when the child is ready and not have to wait until it is 18 to access the information through the HFEA.