UK DonorLink (UKDL) - the voluntary contact register for adults conceived with or who donated sperm or eggs before August 1991 - is threatened with closure. The UK Government will stop funding the service in October this year pending a decision expected in September by public health minister Anne Milton.
The service has so far failed to find alternative funding sources and is pleading for donations. UKDL will close its service to new registrants on 26 August 2011 because 'after that date, DNA testing and any linking could not be completed before the service may have to close'.
The Progress Educational Trust (PET), which publishes BioNews, has written to Anne Milton. In the letter, PET director Sarah Norcross says she was 'dismayed' to learn that the service was being forced to find private funding. 'UK Donor Link is too crucial, sensitive and specific a service to be cast to the vagaries of the marketplace, where we fear it will have little prospect of surviving', she writes.
UKDL was launched with a Department of Health grant in 2003 to enable adults affected by donor conception to exchange information and contact genetic relations. Before the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, people found it hard to get information about their genetic relatives. Donors were usually anonymous and there was no legal requirement to maintain records.
'If UK DonorLink ceases to exist, then there will be no means for these people to find their genetic relatives. They will be disenfranchised', Norcross writes in her letter.