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Hum Reprod. 2011 Oct;26(10):2777-82. doi: 10.1093/humrep/der252. Epub 2011 Aug 10.

A longitudinal study of recipients' views and experiences of intra-family egg donation.

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  • 1Centre for Family Research, Faculty of Politics, Psychology, Sociology and International Studies, University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RF, UK.



For the past 10 years, we have been carrying out a longitudinal investigation of egg donation families in the UK; a subsample of recipients in these families had a child by egg donation from a sister or sister-in-law. In response to the current debate over the practice of intra-family donation, together with the general lack of available data on the consequences of donation between family members, we examined recipients' experiences of donation between sisters and sisters-in-law.


We analysed data from a subsample of recipient mothers who were taking part in a larger investigation of gamete donation families. Mothers were visited at home and interviewed when their child was aged 1, 3, 7 and 10 years. Data from nine recipient mothers whose egg donor was either their sister or sister-in-law were examined to assess the nature of mothers', fathers' and the child's relationship with the donor, and whether mothers had disclosed the nature of their child's conception to others, including the child.


The majority of recipient mothers reported positive relationships between the donor and members of their family (themselves, their partner and their children). Most mothers were happy with the donor's level of involvement with the child and reported that they and the donor maintained their social roles within the family, i.e. as mother and aunt, respectively. By age 10, two children had been told that they had been conceived using egg donation, both of whom had been told the identity of the donor.


Although the sample was small, this study provides the first longitudinal data on the experiences of families created using donated gametes from a family member. Intra-family donation between sisters or sisters-in-law can be a positive experience for recipients during the first 10 years following the child's birth. Studies that are specifically designed to look at donation between family members are needed to better evaluate the practice.

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