Anonymous sperm donors’ attitude towards donation and the release of identifying information



Belgian legislation allows only strictly anonymous gamete donation and known donation (donation to a recipient known by the donor). Recently, an amendment of the legislation was proposed to grant donor offspring, as of 18 years old, the right to claim identifying information about their donor.


The aim is to explore the attitude of actual sperm donors towards donation and the release of identifying information and to investigate which donors would be willing to donate when anonymity would be prohibited by law.


All men who were accepted as sperm donors (n = 242) by AZ Jan Palfijn Hospital (Ghent, Belgium) were invited to complete an anonymous online survey. The response rate was 65.5%.


One in five (20.1%; n = 30) would continue sperm donation upon a legislation change towards identifiable donation. Three in four donors (75.2%) would agree to provide basic non-identifiable information about themselves and one in three (32.9%) would provide extra non-identifiable information such as a baby photo or a personal letter. Almost half of the donors (45.6%) would agree to donate in a system where the hospital can trace the donor at the child’s request and contact the donor, leaving it to the donor to decide whether or not to have contact with the requesting donor child.


These findings show that only one in five current donors would continue to donate when identifiable. The study also demonstrates that current donors think more positive about alternative options and that nearly half of them are willing to be contacted by the hospital at the donor child’s request, providing the donor can decide at that time whether or not to release his identity.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to F. Mahieu.

Ethics declarations

The study was approved by the University Hospital Ghent Ethics Committee, with Belgian Registration Number (B0201733518), and received a positive advice from the local Jan Palfijn Ghent Hospital Ethics Committee. All respondents gave their informed consent at the start of the online survey.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Mahieu, F., Decleer, W., Osmanagaoglu, K. et al. Anonymous sperm donors’ attitude towards donation and the release of identifying information. J Assist Reprod Genet 36, 2007–2016 (2019).

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  • Anonymity
  • Motivation
  • Disclosure
  • Attitude
  • Semen donor
  • Donor conception