Donor Conception

Are egg donors anonymous in Spain? Your 8 most-searched questions

Jessie Day, in partnership with Clínica Tambre  |   7 Mar 2024

Fertility law and procedure can seem so much to get your head around, especially when making a choice over locations – countries, even – and where to take your treatment. Spain is a hugely popular destination right now, for patients seeking the cutting edge of donor conception, but what makes it stand out? 

Today, we’re picking up with Dr. Héctor Izquierdo, fertility specialist at Clínica Tambre – check out our super-popular switching IVF clinics collab explainer for more, great info – for one of Europe’s most complete and comprehensive perspectives on all-things anonymity, and donor conception in Spain. 

egg donation spain Dr Hector Izquierdo

Ready to hit go? Connect directly with the expert team at Clínica Tambre, for pioneering treatment and dedicated coordination, coupled with their trademark warmth and human approach. There’s a reason why so many patients choose Tambre after their very first visit, and donor conception is a big part of this. 

Ticking off your most-Googled questions, Dr. Izquierdo covers: 

  • Why Spain, for egg donation
  • Donor anonymity in Spain – how it works and the Tambre approach
  • Choosing a donor
  • Spain vs the UK, and all the plus points 
  • Spanish fertility law
  • Safety control, and regulation 
  • Fenomatch, and facial/feature matching 
  • Getting started, plus more tips and to-dos

Let’s dive in.

1. How does donor anonymity work in Spain?

First things first, in Spain, there are no ‘grey’ areas. Egg donation – and gamete donation in general, so sperm too – must be completely anonymous. This means no contact between donor and intended parent (IP), and no open register. Donation is also altruistic, and donors aren’t paid or ‘compensated’ financially, beyond their travel to the clinic, and inconvenience.

Spain is a powerhouse in assisted reproduction, and IVF treatment with oocyte (egg) donation is one of the most common treatments we carry out, at Clínica Tambre, thanks to consistently high success rates. 

At Tambre we maintain the anonymity of the gamete donor and cannot provide any information other than the basic phenotype, i.e. eye colour, hair, race and complexion – keep reading for all the detail on Fenomatch, and how AI can support your matching goals. 

Donor identity is always kept confidential, in order to protect the privacy of all parties involved in the gamete donation process, and act in accordance with current legislation. And, our centre stands as one of the most important in the field of Assisted Reproduction in Spain, being a forerunner in egg donation in Madrid. 

egg donation spain

2. Can you choose your egg donor in Spain?

In simple terms, no. In Spain, the donor is anonymous and selected by your doctor, based on requirements for physical traits and blood type. At Tambre, the donor can also be selected based on genetics (genetic matching). We work to keep wait times very short for patients, with the time between matching with your donor and treatment at a minimum. 

In compliance with the Spanish Assisted Reproduction Act, donor candidates must be between 18 and 35 years of age, with the average age at Tambre being under 30. 

The donation process in Spain is very rigorous and, as we’ve already mentioned, starts with the absolute anonymity of the people who donate their gametes. When you decide to undergo IVF treatment with egg donation in Spain, your clinic (whether that’s us at Tambre or anywhere else) should make you aware that the law states you cannot choose your donor. 

A rigorous selection process

Trust and a great relationship with your fertility expert are paramount – and you should be satisfied that they’re carrying out an exhaustive and rigorous selection, based on those medical and phenotypic criteria.

At Clínica Tambre, choosing a donor is a very important process for us – we’re so aware of the trust that each patient places in our team – and we carry out exhaustive medical and psychological checks on each donor. 

Alongside age restrictions, donors undergo rigorous checks to ensure they’re in good health. This process includes an extensive medical check-up which not only includes serological (blood serum) tests, but also a detailed genetic analysis, including karyotype evaluation, detection for cystic fibrosis, beta-thalassaemia and Fragile X syndrome. 

In addition, a full psychological assessment is also carried out. And with prior informed consent, a sample of DNA is kept for possible future needs. 

Detail, without compromising anonymity

We’ll then select the most suitable person, taking phenotypes into account and looking for the closest resemblance possible. For this, we use the very latest techniques, via Fenomatch – a state-of-the-art tool which uses artificial intelligence (AI) – for advanced facial and phenotype matching. 

We provide IPs with details of their egg donor’s blood type, age and phenotypic traits. But crucially, these details don’t make it possible to identify the donor, so confidentiality and anonymity is guaranteed. 

And, since 2008 at Tambre we’ve pioneered the use of the Witness system for the control and traceability of eggs and sperm in our IVF and andrology laboratories. This is a fail-safe system,  built to prevent possible handling or identification errors.

3. What sets Spain apart, for egg donation?

Good question! For me, it’s the rigorous control of donation, including the fact that the maximum authorised number of children born in Spain with gametes from the same donor is six.  

Spain is the only country in the EU where there is a central state register of donors and recipients. This ensures that the information is not only available at the clinic, but is also collected and kept by the Ministry of Health. It also means that, through the Ministry’s registry mechanism, there is exhaustive and constant control of clinic activity – their success rates, the types of treatment carried out, etc. 

We also use the Genetic Compatibility Test – genetic matching – a preventive analysis that allows us to study 363 hereditary genetic diseases (332 autosomal recessive and 31 linked to the X chromosome), which is carried out on those who donate their gametes.

4. Isn’t gamete donation anonymous in the UK?

No, and this is one of the primary reasons we see so many UK patients come to Spain for treatment. In simple terms, once a person conceived via donor conception turns 18, UK law permits them to access identifying information which would remain anonymous, in Spain.  

Spain is also very popular for gamete donation, because it’s possible to perform preconception genetic diagnosis of the embryo (PGD), to find out if it has chromosomal alterations and potentially help avoid the birth of a child affected by a hereditary disease. 

And finally, another very important factor is the average age of the donor, which is much younger in Spain, compared to the UK. This is a determining factor for success rates.

Dr Hector Izquierdo egg donation ultrasound

5. What are the fertility laws in Spain?

Spanish legislation on assisted reproduction is one of the most advanced in Europe, which has made Spain a destination for women or couples who need reproductive medicine support, in order to become parents. 

The Law on Assisted Reproduction Techniques in Spain allows access to fertility treatments for all women, regardless of their marital status and sexual orientation. Single women and female couples have the right to access fertility treatments, including artificial insemination and in vitro fertilisation (IVF). And, egg and sperm donation is anonymous in Spain, which contrasts with laws in other countries where anonymity has been eliminated. 

In addition, to reduce the risk of multiple pregnancies, the law limits the number of embryos that can be transferred. Here at Tambre our policy is to transfer a single embryo, especially in women under 38 years of age, with no previous fertility problems.

As we’ve covered, in the UK donation is not completely anonymous. And, this is one of the key reasons that many UK IPs choose Spain for fertility treatment.

6. Is it safe to use donor eggs?

IVF with egg donation is an incredible path to parenthood, but no small undertaking. At Tambre, we’re always open and honest with our patients about what to expect, and what’s involved.

That said, safety is absolutely paramount, and the control checks we make are exhaustive. Patients also benefit from the peace of mind delivered by the Spanish health system, which maintains strict registration and control, ensuring high standards of quality and safety for patients. 

Spanish legislation allows the use of advanced techniques in assisted reproduction, such as preimplantation genetic selection, to detect genetic anomalies before embryo implantation. This is especially relevant for couples at risk of transmitting genetic disease.

7. Is gamete donation in Spain a highly controlled process, compared to other countries?

Absolutely. The Spanish system is extremely efficient.

State surveillance ensures the donation process is rigorous, and serious, and the Ministry of Health holds the SIRHA register, which controls the integral management related to assisted human reproduction techniques. It also collects information on donors and their donations, and the techniques applied.

8. What is Fenomatch?

At Tambre, we’re pioneers in many aspects, including the use of the most advanced technologies. And, we were the first clinic in Madrid to use Fenomatch, which uses facial biometrics to select the most suitable donor with similar features to the future parents. 

Fenomatch technology analyses a patient’s facial features and compares them with a database of potential donors. Using advanced algorithms, it then identifies similarities in facial structure, eye shape, nose and mouth, among other things. 

Powered by AI, this technology provides an additional tool for the donor selection process, which has traditionally been based on general physical characteristics such as blood type, skin colour, eye colour, hair colour and height, among others. It allows us to be more precise, in our matching process, opening options and possibilities for our patients across the globe. 

Getting started with donor egg IVF – my top tips

  1. Place your trust in the advanced reproductive medicine we apply. At Clínica Tambre, the success rates are excellent, and usually even higher than for IVF using your own gametes, up to 91%.
  2. Choose a clinic that gives you the most confidence, speaks your language, uses the best technology, personalises your treatment and offers excellent success rates. 
  3. Be aware – and choosy – about waiting lists, and delay. In reproductive medicine, time is precious. At Clínica Tambre we operate with minimal to zero waiting list, thanks to the choice provided by our carefully built donor database. 

Ready to get started? For patients just starting out or anyone looking to switch, Clínica Tambre’s first priority and touchpoint is getting to know you, and your journey so far. From IVF with egg donation to different treatment options, the team are on hand to support you from that initial chat onwards. 

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