Human Fertility and Embryology Act 1990 discriminates against children

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.316.7137.1094 (Published 04 April 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:1094

Children must not be denied future choice of using their gametes

  1. Martin Hewitt, Consultant paediatric oncologist,
  2. David Walker, Senior lecturer in paediatric oncology,
  3. Michael Sokal, Consultant oncologist
  1. Department of Child Health, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH
  2. Department of Clinical Oncology, City Hospital, Nottingham NG5 1PB
  3. Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, London E1 7LS

    EDITOR—Childhood cancer affects 1 in 600 children. Five year survival rates now exceed 65%, which means that by the beginning of the next millennium 1 in 950 young people aged 16-35 will have been cured of cancer.1 Unfortunately, many of the treatments used may sterilise some of these young people.2

    Rapid developments in fertility treatment result in new solutions that we, as paediatricians, need to exploit in order to offer our young patients the best opportunities.3 The current legal framework for harvesting, storing, studying, and using human gametes is defined by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. Paragraph 3.38 of this code of practice states that valid consent must be obtained from those aged under 18 before their gametes may be harvested. When the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority was asked for clarification, its view was that “although parental consent may be obtained …

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