Date Published: 23 June 2010

Internet sperm sites pose new risks for patients

The HFEA is aware of a number of internet sites which offer services that claim to put people in touch with potential donors, whether of sperm or eggs. We want to make patients aware that such sites might pose very real risks to people trying to find help.

If you use a site that does not direct you to a licensed clinic you put yourself at risk:

  • that the sample you receive is neither safe nor screened
  • that the donor is not who they say they are
  • that the safeguards that the law offers both to parents and to those who are born do not apply and cannot be invoked

Those who run such sites may also be breaking the law and the HFEA will refer such cases to the police where it has powers to do so.

The HFEA strongly recommends that people seeking to donate sperm or to be treated using donated sperm do so only through the HFEA’s licensed clinics. This includes cases where the donor is known to the recipient.

For people using unlicensed services or private arrangements there are also serious implications regarding who is legally the father of any child conceived. The law says a man donating sperm through HFEA licensed fertility clinics is not the legal father of any child born through that donation. This includes cases where the donor is known to the recipient. That is not so where the arrangement occurs outside a licensed clinic and the man’s status and liability as a parent cannot be waived.

People donating through such sites may not be made fully aware of their legal responsibilities if the donation takes place outside a licensed clinic.

Prof Lisa Jardine, Chair of the HFEA said:

We can see why people who want to have a baby might be temped by this short-cut. It might seem to be cheaper and easier. In fact it is fraught with risk. Our advice is simple, go to a licensed clinic and be protected.


Source: Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HEFA), UK..

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