Fertility patients now have more time to make important decisions about their future following a change to the law that enables all patients to store their eggs, sperm and embryos for up to 55 years, providing they re-consent every 10 years.
From today, all patients in the UK can store their eggs, sperm and embryos for their own treatment for up to 55 years, providing they re-consent every 10 years; donors can store their eggs or sperm for use up to 55 years and do not need to renew their consent; and providing patients consent to their sperm, eggs or embryos being used in the event of their death, they can remain in storage for up to 10 years from the date they pass away.
The HFEA is supportive of the new law however it has extensive implications for clinics and for some patients
Audit all their stored material to accurately assess the consent status of any stored gametes or embryos.
Alongside the relevant information, offer patients counselling every time they are approached about giving or renewing consent.
Contact patients who have gametes or embryos in storage where there is no effective consent to storage in place or where consent to storage is due to expire within the Transitional Period to renew their consent. This must happen before 30 June 2023.
Use the new and revised consent forms that reflect these legal changes available on the HFEA website and ensure patients have these consents in place before 30 June 2024.
The new law also has important changes for people who try to preserve their fertility
Patients about to undergo cancer treatment or hormone therapy for example. These patients can continue to store their eggs, sperm or embryos for up to 55 years but now they must re-consent every ten years; something they did not need to do previously.
Rachel Cutting, the HFEA’s Director for Compliance & Information, said:
“The change in law means that all patients have equal opportunity to store eggs, sperm or embryos for up to 55 years, providing consent is given every 10 years. The new law also enables greater accessibility for patients requiring donor sperm and eggs as this material now too, is available for up to 55 years providing consent is in place.
“Clinics have until 30 June 2023 to contact patients who have eggs, sperm or embryos in storage that are due to expire within the next two years. Consents using the updated or new forms must be in place for patients wishing to store for a further ten years by June 2024.
“For patients who have tried to preserve their fertility ahead of chemotherapy, radiotherapy or hormone therapy, it’s important they keep their contact details up to date so that clinics can re-consent every 10 years. We’ll be working with clinics and key patient facing organisations to ensure these patient groups are aware this important change.”
To find out more on the new storage law, visit HFEA
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