Sperm donation: Changing the lives of others

PictureThe sperm donors at European Sperm Bank are very much aware of the good they do, but the inspiration to become a sperm donor comes from many angles.

Being a sperm donor is not mainstream like giving blood. Perhaps it should be? Especially when you look at the good that sperm donors do for people seeking pregnancy. Without them, there would be less children and happy families around the world.


Mainstream or not, the inspiration to become a sperm donor comes in many shape and forms. We call this the A-B-C of sperm donation:
//posted by Lilian, Fertility nurse and Donor Coordinator at European Sperm Bank

Lucy: “I Am a Sperm Donor Baby”

PictureLucy and her twin brother (photo owned by Lucy McDonald)

How does a child cope with having a sperm donor as her biological father? This is a concern with many parents of donor-conceived children.

In a very honest article “I Am a Sperm Donor Baby and I Don’t Care Who My Dad Is”, Lucy explains how biology has nothing to do with how she feels about the people, who brought her up: Her real parents!


​Lucy McDonald (22) from the UK was a donor baby. Obviously, her twin brother was, too. They were conceived through a sperm bank by an anonymous sperm donation in 1992, so they do not know who the donor is. 

“I refer to this man as my “biological father,” not my “dad,” because he is not my dad. I have half his genes, but he has had absolutely no role in my life whatsoever. He donated his sperm on the condition that he could remain anonymous; it was an altruistic gesture to help someone somewhere in the U.K. who couldn’t conceive naturally. He didn’t want to be my dad; he just wanted to do a good thing. Yes, I am grateful to him for this act, but I feel no emotional connection to him”, Lucy says.

Her mother was always open about how the twins were conceived, and it has never been a problem for Lucy: “When I tell people about my origins, I am nearly always asked: “Don’t you want to know who your dad is?” My answer, without hesitation, is always no.”

In the UK, the law on sperm donation changed in 2004, prohibiting the use of anonymous sperm donors from 2006. It is now possible for the donor’s identity to be released to the child once it reaches 18. Before the age of 18, parents and child can access non-identifying information about them, like physical description, age, and ethnicity. 

Lucy’s brother is very keen to learn more about the donor, and after the law has changed, it has been possible for him to gain a bit of information about the sperm donor
Lucy realizes that not all donor-conceived children are as happy as she is, and there may be many reasons why. But she has a message for them: “I want to tell them this: Think of the effort someone went through to have you. You were extremely wanted.”

She believes that a parent is someone who loves you unconditionally and does their absolute best to raise you as well as they can. Their genes are irrelevant.     

Read the entire article here. You can also learn more about Lucy McDonald here

//posted by Michael, Communications Specialist at European Sperm 

 We test sperm donors for Zika virus

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Zika virus is a growing concern in many parts of the world. We test all sperm donors that have travelled to countries where the Zika virus is present.

As we travel the world, we are more susceptible to contract diseases and to be infected by different types of vira. This is also true for the Zika virus that is slowly spreading throughout South and Latin America and South East Asia.


Key facts about Zika:

  • Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes.
  • People with Zika virus disease can have symptoms including mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
  • There is scientific consensus that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Links to other neurological complications are also being investigated. (source: WHO 2016)

But more importantly, the Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her foetus and this infection can cause birth defects. This may cause alarm for women seeking assisted pregnancy with donor sperm: Has the sperm donor been tested? Has the sperm donor travelled and gotten bit by a mosquito? I am pregnant with donor sperm. How can I be sure that I do not infect my coming child?

What to do? 
To minimise the risk of contracting Zika through sperm donor, European Sperm Bank has tested our sperm donors for the Zika virus since 2015, if and when they have travelled in any of the countries or areas where Zika is prevalent. At present, the list encompasses all countries in South and Latin America and South East Asia – and we of course keep a vigilant eye on the developments.

The donors are obligated to tell us when they have been abroad. In case a donor has been to an outbreak country, we test the donor, and he is not permitted to donate until we have a negative result.
Therefore, we can enforce our strict policy of only selling thoroughly screened sperm of the highest quality.

You can learn more about the Zika-virus from the European for Disease Prevention and Control and the World Health Organization.
 
You can also learn more about our screening process here.

//posted by Thomas – Head Laboratory Technician at European Sperm Bank

Are the kids all right? 

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It’s on our minds and it’s probably on yours, too. How are the kids doing? Is it more challenging to be a family with donor children? Not really. Psychological studies have shown that families with donor children are doing well.

A recent study out of the University of Cambridge in the UK among 103 mothers (51 single women with donor children and 52 women partnered with the child’s biological father) shows no difference in the children’s adjustment or any significant difference in parenting quality or maternal well-being.


Another Cambridge University study of 145 families with adolescent children conceived under different circumstances (through a sperm donor, an egg donor, surrogacy or natural conception) shows no difference in family strains or the psychological adjustment among adolescent donor children, compared to both naturally conceived children or children from collaborative reproduction methods.
Consequently, according to the studies, there are no indication that donor children or their families should be any less all right than any other family.

The studies were presented at the 2015 annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) in Baltimore, and the president of the ASRM, Rebecca Z. Sokol, MD, MPH, stated that “it is reassuring to know that families, who rely upon medical assistance to have children, do not appear to suffer psychologically. It appears families are families.”

You can read more about the studies here.

//posted by Stinne, Client Service Manager at European Sperm Bank