The following is a generalized list of steps for the process of donating sperm, eggs, or embryos:
Deciding to donate
- The decision to donate sperm, eggs, or embryos is a personal one, and may be motivated by a variety of different factors. Some individuals may decide to donate after being specifically asked by a friend or family member, while others may just want to donate anonymously or indirectly in order to help a family who may need that help in order to build a family. In some cases, the donation is compassionate (often between friends and family members), while in other cases donors may receive reimbursement payments or compensation in exchange for the donation.
Retain an attorney
- After deciding to donate, a good first step is to contact an attorney who can help to map out the process and ensure that the donor understands his or her rights and responsibilities. Find a qualified attorney in your area.
Find a center or donation program
- Anonymous/Indirect Donation: Anyone considering donating their sperm, egg, or embryos who does not have a specific recipient in mind should reach out to a matching program, fertility center or cryobank. Each program will have its own rules and policies regarding information disclosure and medical clearance to donate, which should be thoroughly researched in advance. In addition, donors should be aware that, no matter what sort of confidentiality agreements are entered into by intended parents, no contract binds a resulting child. Developing technology and the internet make it nearly impossible to guarantee that a child will never be able to find, and possibly contact, a donor. So anonymity is not something that can be guaranteed. Moreover, some degree of openness regarding gamete donation is generally psychologically recommended, so donors should consider and be aware of those factors when deciding to donate. Even when donating to a center, a donor should have a donor agreement in place with the recipients (even if anonymous) in addition to signing a center release and informed consent form.
- Known/Direct Donation: Anyone considering donating to known recipients may still have to comply with certain center procedures and medical testing and clearances. In addition, a well-drafted donor agreement is essential in known donation situations, to ensure that everyone’s rights and responsibilities to any resulting child are clearly defined.
- Once a donor matches with a recipient (known or anonymous), and the parties know what center they will be using, a qualified attorney can then begin the process of drafting a contract, which the attorney for the other party/parties will review and negotiate. All parties in a donor agreement should consult with separate, competent legal counsel to ensure that the process is fully mapped out and that everyone is protected by a well-written donor agreement prior to any donation occurring. Donors should be especially careful to not simply rely on center release forms, as those generally do not constitute binding contracts between the parties, and are often drafted to protect the center’s interest first. In addition, a carefully agreement will be tailored to the parties’ specific situation and needs.
Making the Donation
- After the contract is signed by all parties, the attorney or both attorneys will issue a legal clearance letter to the fertility center, although occasionally, the center may also request a copy of the contract. In some cases, the donor will have already provided the donated gametes to the center, which stores the donation until the agreement is finalized and the gametes or embryos can be transferred to the recipient. In other cases, the parties wait until after finalizing the contract to begin any medical procedures.