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Anonymous, Non-anonymous, Open or Known Egg Donation

Anonymous or Non-anonymous, Open or Known

A Guide for patients considering IVF with donor eggs in Europe. European donor arrangements explained.

The number of IVF procedures using egg donors continues to rise each year. According to the latest research produced by De Montfort University in the U.K. over 25,000 such procedures are undertaken in Europe each year, resulting in over 7,000 babies being born. Spain continues to lead the way in terms of numbers, carrying out over 50% of the total annual number of treatments; the majority of which are accessed by women travelling to the country.

This Guide will outline the various approaches taken by countries that offer IVF with donor eggs and the information which is available to both recipients and ultimately, any child born as a result of such treatments.

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European countries can differ in the way they view egg donor treatments and how these are governed in law or regulation. There are a number of descriptors that are applied to the donor and the procedure of donation and these are:

Anonymous egg donation

IVF using an anonymous egg donation is offered in a number of European countries including Spain, Greece and the Czech Republic. It refers to an arrangement where the identity of the donor is anonymous – no identifiable information will be shared with the recipient or the resulting child. In some countries, a limited amount of information about the donor may be shared such as physical characteristics (i.e., hair, skin, eye colour). Recipients or resulting children will never be able to request additional information about the donor.

Non-anonymous egg donation

Non-anonymous egg donation is the opposite of anonymous donation. The core difference is that the egg donor agrees to share their identifiable personal information with any person born as a result of their donation once they reach the age of consent, usually at 18. All gamete donations are legally applied as non-anonymous in countries such as the U.K. The umbrella term, ‘non-anonymous can refer to three types of donors: known, open or mixed.

Open donation

The term ‘Open Donor’ is similar to that of the ‘known donor’ however there is no need for an existing relationship to be in place. An example of an open donor relationship might be when the donor and recipient agree to exchange details and identifiable information but have a relaxed approach to formally meeting. Any such meeting would not be seen as imperative for the relationship to work.

Known donor

The term ‘Known Donor’ signifies a close, existing relationship between donor and recipient. This relationship could be familial, or friendship-based and stems from a clear understanding of what is expected of the donor, recipient and any child born as a result of the treatment.

Mixed anonymity

A ‘mixed’ or ‘semi-open door’ refers to an arrangement where a limited amount of information is shared between parties and could involve an intermediary like a lawyer. This type of relationship may be flexible to allow the possibility of greater contact between donor and recipient or donor and child at any time in the future.

Donor anonymity in popular destinations for IVF treatment

The legal framework regarding donor status differs from country to country and within each country individual clinics may interpret the law in slightly different ways. It is, therefore always wise to check directly to enquire which arrangement is offered to donors and recipients.

The status of a donor and the amount of information which is available to the recipient and ultimately to the child when they reach the age of consent are major drivers for patients as they decide where to begin their fertility treatment. The clinic of your choice will recognise this, and should as a matter of good practice be able to clearly demonstrate what information about the donor will be made available in order to assist you in making a final decision about the country and/or the clinic you wish to visit to undertake treatment.

The table provides a snapshot of the different arrangements in place regarding donor information and reflects the diverse application undertaken.

CountryAnonymous egg donorsNon-anonymous egg donors Known donors Mixed systemConsidered Liberal
SpainYes (strict)NoYes
(only for shared motherhood)
No Yes
PortugalNoYes Yes
(only for shared motherhood)
NoYes
Czech RepublicYesNo NoNoFairly prescriptive
GreeceYes NoNoNoClinic by clinic
North CyprusYesNoNoNoClinic by clinic
UkraineYesYesNoYesYes
RussiaYesNoNoNoClinic by clinic
LatviaYesNoNoNoFairly prescriptive
PolandYesNoNoNoFairly prescriptive
DenmarkYesYesYesYesYes
UKNoYesYesNoFairly prescriptive
USAYesYesYesYesYes

Pros and cons of anonymous egg donation

When opting for an IVF procedure that involves an anonymous egg donor there are a number of potential positives/negatives to consider. These include:

Anonymous egg donation pros:

  • Boundaries: the donor is not able to contact the parents or child (vice versa)
  • Avoidance of potential conflict between donor/parents/child
  • Avoidance of explanation/justification to others

Anonymous egg donation cons:

  • Boundaries: the donor is not able to contact the parents or child (vice versa)
  • The child is not able to participate in the decision-making process

Pros and cons of non-anonymous egg donation

When opting for an IVF procedure that involves a non-anonymous egg donor there are a number of potential positives/negatives to consider. These include:

Non-anonymous egg donation pros:

  • The child born as a result of the treatment if able to contact the donor
  • Transparency for all parties

Non-anonymous egg donation cons:

  • The child born as a result of the treatment is able to contact the donor against the donor’s wishes
  • It could reduce the number of potential donors if their anonymity is removed

Pros and cons of known egg donation

There are a number of potential positives/negatives to consider. These include:

Pros and cons of known egg donation:

  • More information is available
  • It is less expensive
  • Similar genetics if a familial arrangement is in place

Pros and cons of known egg donation:

  • The donor may feel pressured to get involved
  • Conflict over parenting decisions
  • No legal binding arrangement may be in place

What information might you receive about an egg donor: country to country

We have put together a snapshot of the range of information you are likely to receive about a donor if you decide to visit particular countries. In each of the countries mentioned donors would have undergone a series of psychological and physical checks to ensure they are fit to participate in the treatment.

It should be noted that there may be differences offered by clinics within the same country – for instance, some countries like Ukraine, Russia, Greece or North Cyprus might offer a more liberal or flexible approach that is taken on a clinic by clinic basis.

You should always seek clarification about what specific information about the donor will be shared with you before you make your final decision regarding a treatment provider.

CountryEgg donor Information
SpainCovers physical characteristics such as hair/eye colour, blood group and age.
PortugalCovers physical characteristics such as hair/eye colour, blood group and age.
Czech RepublicCovers physical characteristics such as height, hair and eye colour, blood type as well as level of education, hobbies and interests
GreeceCovers height, hair and eye colour, blood type, level of education, occupation and leisure interests
North CyprusCovers height, hair and eye colour, blood type, level of education, occupation, leisure interests and previous donation history
UkraineDependent upon the clinic
RussiaDependent upon the clinic

Anonymous or Non-anonymous, Open or Known – Final thoughts

The number of IVF treatments involving an egg donor is increasing year on year. The decision to have to involve a donor can be a difficult and complex one which is influenced by the arrangements in place which define the relationship between donor, recipient, and any child born from the treatment.

The good news for anyone having to consider egg donation treatments is that there are choices available. Depending upon your particular needs and wishes you have many options. You can choose an anonymous or non-anonymous donor, someone who is known to you or a hybrid of any of these arrangements. Once you have decided upon the relationship you and your child want with the donor, you can make a decision about receiving treatment in a particular country and/or clinic. If you are in the process of deciding on what type of donor to use, you may want to inquire for more information at these clinics:

Anonymous or Non-anonymous, Open or Known – FAQ

Is it better to have anonymous or - non-anonymous donor for the treatment?

This is simply up to you – there are arguments for and against. If you are in any doubt about choosing either option speak to your clinic or ideally an independent counsellor or coach that has experience of donor conception.

Should I choose an anonymous egg donor?

Your decision may be out of your hands if you live in a country that only works with anonymous donors – if however, you are prepared to travel you will have a number of options. The choice whether to receive an anonymous donation will be based on your personal circumstances and any consultations you have with your clinic or fertility specialist.

What is anonymous egg donation?

This is where the identity of the donor is unknown - no identifiable information will be shared with the recipient or resulting child.

How to find your anonymous egg donor?

Your choice of clinic will be able to advise on this. They have their own bank of donors who have been personally selected or use the services of a dedicated egg bank.

What is non anonymous egg donation?

This is where the egg donor agrees to share her personal identifiable information with the recipient and any child born as a result of the treatment when the child reaches the age of consent.

Is egg donation anonymous in the U.K.?

No, since 2005 all egg donors have had to give consent that identifiable information would be made available to any child born as a result of their donation when that child reaches 18 (on request).

Which countries allow non anonymous egg donation?

There are increasing numbers of European countries that offer non-anonymous egg donors but the leading ones that perform the most treatments are the U.K., Portugal, and Denmark.

What is an open donor?

This arrangement is when a donor and recipient may decide to share certain details and may be open to physically meeting but any such decision would be made mutually.

Are all egg donors anonymous?

No, this this will depend on the country in which the donation is made and the agreement between the donor and body responsible for arranging the procedure i.e., a fertility clinic or egg bank.

Does an egg donor have rights?

This is a complicated area and one which depends on the country in which the donation is mased and what sort of contract or agreement in place between the donor, clinic, recipient and any child born from the procedure. If you have any concerns speak to your treatment provider and if necessary, seek legal advice.

Can a child find their egg donor?

This is dependent upon the arrangement when the donation was made. This wouldn’t be an issue if the donor were known or in some cased where the arrangement was open/mixed and both parties had agreed for personal data to be shared. In those countries that only offer non-anonymous donors the child can find out about the donor when they reach 18. In other circumstances there is the increased possibility that any child might be able to track potential donors using the various DNA/family origin platforms which exist.

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