Tracking Change: The Feasibility of a Voluntary Gamete Donor Registry in the United States

When: March 28, 2008 (9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.)
Where: University Club, Michigan Room
76 East Monroe Street
Chicago, Illinois 60603

Concerns regarding secrecy in the use of donor gametes have led to recent regulatory responses in a number of European nations and Australia. The United States, however, greatly concerned with potential infringement on reproductive rights and autonomy of participants, continues to lag behind in formulating a uniform national response. Instead, piecemeal solutions have been implemented by individual sperm banks, consumer groups and for-profit entities that seek to keep gamete recipients updated on significant health conditions of the donor or to match donor offspring with other genetically related donor offspring. These lay registries have emerged without public discourse, public accountability, multidisciplinary expertise, uniformity or oversight. As legislative proposals begin to emerge in the United States, the time is ripe for professionals most directly impacted by the creation of such registries to take the lead in the discussion and develop a feasible, acceptable and effective solution to benefit the full range of stakeholders.

Developing a single effective registry requires balancing the interests of the child, donor, intended parents, health care professionals and society. In addition, conducting a risk/benefit analysis is necessary to protect, promote and enhance this important reproductive option and ensure the physical and emotional safety and privacy of all participants, including the resultant offspring.

Proposed benefits of creating a voluntary gamete donor registry centralized within the reproductive medicine community include:

  • Collecting and maintaining pertinent medical, health and genetic information
  • Helping avoid identity issues or familial disconnect experienced by some children
  • Preventing inadvertent consanguinity and enabling offspring to make informed reproductive decisions
  • Enabling Assisted Reproductive Technology programs to share donor information with one another
  • Ensuring that donors do not participate in multiple programs or more times than is medically and/or psychologically recommended
  • Facilitating outcomes/epidemiological research that is currently lacking despite the thousands of births annually utilizing donated gametes in the United States

Tracking Change will explore the feasibility of creating a uniform voluntary gamete donor registry in the United States. Using a multidisciplinary approach, expert panelists will discuss the practical, theoretical, and ethical benefits and barriers of developing and implementing a registry with a particular focus on legal and policy considerations. The issues will be discussed from the perspectives of a range of stakeholders, including physicians, fertility centers, sperm banks, donor gamete recipients, donors, donor gamete offspring and society.


9:00 - 10:00   Legal and Ethical Issues
Susan Crockin, JD
The Crockin Law and Policy Group
Nigel Cameron, Ph.D.
President and Co-Founder, Institute on Biotechnology & the Human Future
Naomi Cahn, JD
The George Washington University Law School

10:00 - 10:15   Questions and Answers with the Panel

10:15 - 10:30   Break

10:30 - 12:00   Medical Issues
David Adamson, MD
President, American Society for Reproductive Medicine
Mark Hughes, MD, Ph.D.
Genesis Genetics Institute, Applied Genetics Technology Center at Samaritan
Richard Scott, MD
Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey;
Professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey

12:00 - 1:00   Lunch and Keynote Address, Cathedral Hall
Lori Andrews, JD
Distinguished Professor of Law and Director, Institute of Science, Law and Technology, Chicago-Kent College of Law

1:00 - 2:30   Consumer and Mental Health Issues
Wendy Kramer
Donor Sibling Registry
Bette Galen, LCSW
Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey
Andrea Braverman, Ph.D.
Director of Psychological and Complementary Care, Reproductive
Medicine Associates of New Jersey
Jean Benward, LCSW
Co-President, Board of Directors, The Sperm Bank of California

2:30 - 3:15   Questions and Answers with the Panel

3:15 - 3:30   Break

3:30 - 4:30   Feasibility Issues
Charles Sims, MD
Medical Director, California Cryobank
Sean Tipton
Director of Public Affairs, American Society for Reproductive Medicine
Earl Furfine
Founder, Cardinal Technologies

4:30 - 4:45   Questions and Answers with the Panel

4:45 - 5:00   Conclusion

5:00 - 6:30   Reception, College Hall

Hotel Information

The Palmer House Hilton
17 East Monroe Street, Chicago, IL 60603

The Silversmith Hotel & Suites
10 South Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603

Hotel Burnham
1 W Washington Street, Chicago, IL 60602

Hyatt Regency Chicago
151 East Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL 60601

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