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Donating eggs or sperm for others to use in reproduction can enable individuals who would not otherwise be able to do so to have children. However, gamete donation also raises ethical concerns about the privacy of donors and the nature of relationships among donors and children born through use of their gametes by means of assisted reproductive technologies.

Physicians who participate in gamete retrieval and storage should:

  1. Inform prospective donors of sperm or ova:
    1. about the clinical risks of gamete donation, including the near and long-term risks and the discomforts of ovarian hyperstimulation and egg retrieval as appropriate;
    2. about the need for full medical disclosure and that prospective donors will be tested for infectious disease agents and genetic disorders;
    3. whether and how the donor will be informed if testing indicates the presence of infectious disease or genetic disorder;
    4. that all information collected, including test results, will be stored indefinitely;
    5. what additional personal information will be collected about the donor;
    6. under what circumstances and with whom personal information, including identifying information, will be shared for clinical purposes;
    7. how donated gametes will be stored and policies and procedures governing the use of stored gametes;
    8. whether and how the donor will be compensated;
    9. the fact that state law will govern the relationship between the donor and any resulting child (or children).
  2. Exclude prospective donors for whom testing reveals the presence of infectious disease agents.
  3. Obtain the prospective donor’s consent for gamete retrieval.
  4. Discuss, document and respect the prospective donor’s preferences for how gametes may be used, including whether they may be donated for research purposes.
  5. Discuss, document, and respect the prospective donor’s preferences regarding release of identifying information to any child (or children) resulting from use of the donated gametes.
  6. Adhere to good clinical practices, including ensuring that identifying information is maintained indefinitely so that:
    1. donors can be notified in the event a child born through use of his/her gametes subsequently tests positive for infectious disease or genetic disorder that may have been transmitted by the donor;
    2. the number of pregnancies resulting from a single gamete donor is limited.
AMA Principles of Medical Ethics: I, V
Read the Principles

Council Reports