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Logo of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority

The fertility watchdog is considering whether to recommend scrapping anonymity for future sperm and egg donors as part of an expected overhaul of UK fertility laws.

Peter Thompson, the chief executive of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), said the rapid rise of consumer genetic testing websites such as 23andMe could soon make it impossible to guarantee donor anonymity – and that the law needs to be brought into line with this new reality.

Under rules in place since 2005, people conceived using donated eggs, sperm or embryos can access identifying information about the donor when they reach the age of 18, but donors can choose to remain anonymous until then.

“We feel that the technology of cheap DNA tests throws into question the underlying assumption [of anonymity],” said Thompson. “Given that, the responsible thing to do is to start a conversation about where we as a society want to go on these things. It’s a big change.”

He added: “You can see a position in the future where confidentiality just becomes impossible, whatever the attitude of families... see more