The UK government has granted a two-year extension for the storage of eggs, sperm and embryos in assisted reproduction procedures. The usual legal period is 10 years. Treatment was suspended because of COVID19, so this additional time allows patients to get back on track.
James Bethel, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Innovation, Department of Health, UK said, “This ensures that those that have embryos, sperm or eggs stored as part of their treatment are not unfairly caught out by the existing storage limits. It gives the best possible opportunity to start a family in the future.”
The move has been welcomed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). Speaking last week Sally Cheshire, Chair, said that the HFEA would send out guidelines to UK clinics on implementing the extension.
Fertility community activists have also applauded this important and reassuring step being taken by the Government. Infertility creates enormous stress and undergoing treatment can be a difficult and emotional process for those trying to build families. The COVID19 epidemic has exacerbated that stress with additional concerns for some patients that their frozen embryos or gametes might have been destroyed once the 10-year limit was exceeded.
Patients should feel reassured that they can continue with treatment as previously planned and use the embryos and gametes they already have in storage.