Limitoo News

Register allows donor-conceived to learn more about their heritage

Sperm tubes are placed in bank to store genetic code, reproduction clones.
File photo. Photo: 123rf

The Department of Internal Affairs says providing data for donor-conceived people is helping to bring a sense of belonging.

Since August 2005, the Human Assisted Reproductive Technologies - HART - register has been collecting information on donor-conceived people, their parents and donors, accumulating more than 3000 births of donor-conceived people registered.

By January 2023, there were more than 3500 recorded donors across the country, with 1454 egg donors and 2073 sperm donors.

Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages Jeff Montgomery said by publishing these statistics, they hoped to raise the profile of the register and increase awareness among people who were donor-conceived.

"When a person donates egg or sperm to a fertility clinic and that results to a child being born, we hold that information until the child turns 16, when they are able to ask for the information to be provided about their donor."

He said the information can be accessed from the fertility clinic or the Registrar-General when the person turned 18 years old.

"Or they can apply to the Family Court to approve access to their information from the time they turn 16.

"Before then, their parents or guardians can access the information on their behalf."

Established by the Human Assisted Reproductive Technologies Act 2004, the purpose of the register was to make sure donor-conceived people can find out about their genetic history and for donors of sperm, eggs, or embryos to know about their genetic offspring.

But what kind of information can be shared?

"It's information about the child and their parents, who provided the sperm or the egg to the fertility clinic. They can access it all and know where they came from," Montgomery said.

Since 2005, fertility clinics have been required to register information after a child is born following the donation of sperm, eggs or embryos at a New Zealand clinic.

The information is then collected and registered with HART.

The register also included voluntary registration of information by donors and people born from donations made at a clinic before 2005, when data started to be gauged.

Montgomery said managing the register was one of the ways the department helped people access the information they need and build a sense of belonging in the communities.

He said the department was expecting the number of people seeking for information to grow in coming years, reflecting an increase in donor-conception in New Zealand.

"We look forward to continuing our work with Donor Conceived Aotearoa and fertility service providers over the coming months to prepare for an expected increase in interest from donor-conceived young people."

Sperm or egg donors who donated at a New Zealand clinic before 22 August 2005, and people born from clinic donations made before then can register their own information voluntarily, either at the clinic or by calling 0800 22 52 52 or emailing [email protected]