Meet our sperm donors
The donors at the London Sperm Bank come from many different backgrounds and donate for their own unique reasons. Here three donors share their stories.
“In my case,” says Mark, a 38-year-old flight attendant with a major airline, “it was friends who’d been trying for so long to have a baby that they’d already started adoption proceedings, and then, after so much trying, she became pregnant naturally. But it made me think how important children are. Pregnancy is not as easy to achieve as you might think. So when I saw the advert, I thought, I’m going to do this.”
Mark, who’s now been an LWC sperm donor for seven months, admits that he’s not comfortable talking about it to any but his closest friends, but he did find the LWC’s counselling sessions helpful. “I found it important to talk about why I was doing it,” he says, “and since the counselling I’ve been much more open about it and feel I can speak more freely.”
Changes to the anonymity laws on sperm and egg donation were not important to Mark, nor is payment. “We discussed the implications of anonymity at the counselling sessions,” he explains, “but I didn’t see it as an issue. If someone does eventually want to meet you, you’ll be meeting an adult. That’s quite different from looking after a child or being a parent. I can see that it might deter an 18 year-old student from being a sperm donor, but it makes little difference to me. Of course, I’ve thought about it, that someone might knock on my door in 20 years time, but it wouldn’t really be my child, it would be an adult with a biological connection to me. What’s more important to me is that I’m a sperm donor for altruistic reasons, to help couples like my friends who can’t have babies. It’s not a question of payment or worrying about parental responsibilities. If you can do it, and you’re in a position to do it, why not?”
Mark tries to donate sperm once a week, but work commitments mean that it’s not always possible. He continues to keep in close contact with the clinic and the payment, he finds, helps cover his weekly train fare to London.
*The name has been changed to protect the donor’s anonymity
Alan, a 41-year-old actor, saw the effects of infertility at close hand. “My sister and her husband tried for a long time to have a baby,” Alan recalls. “But when she finally did become pregnant, she miscarried. It was just devastating for everyone. I felt it very deeply - in fact it was the only time in my life I’ve ever written poetry.”
“It certainly made me think about the future and it put things in perspective. Eventually, my sister and her husband were treated at a fertility clinic, and now I have two nieces – the first was born following ICSI nine years ago. So I know what an effect childlessness can have. It doesn’t just affect the couple, but ripples out to all the family. So being a sperm donor was one way of helping. I asked myself how I could help; I wanted to help.”
Like Mark, Alan has no worries about anonymity. In fact, he says, his only worry was whether his sperm would be suitable, but semen analysis at the start of his programme found his sperm counts and motility high. “The new anonymity laws don’t bother me,“ he says. “When they’re 18, I’ll be 59. I’ve read that those who search for a biological father will be counselled through the process, so I expect it will be done in a responsible way. The way I see it is that I’ve simply helped someone else to have a baby.”
*Names have been changed to protect the donors’ anonymity
When I was four years old, I was introduced to a seven year-old girl called Daisy,* Our families were close friends and Daisy and I spent long weekends amusing and annoying each other in equal measures. She soon became a surrogate big sister for me and, aside from my mother, was the biggest female influence in my life at that time.
Twenty-five years on, she is still and will remain an important part of my life. Our families have grown and changed, our lives are busy and we have chosen different paths in life. However, no matter how much time passes, seeing each other is always a blessing.
Daisy came out as gay a number of years ago and has been with her partner for nine years. Just last week they got married in a ceremony packed to the rafters with family and friends. Just as Daisy is a special person in her own right, her partner is a passionate and incredibly loyal person who has made the very best out of her life and the personal challenges she has had to face over the years. I can’t imagine two people who would make more loving parents.
So you don’t have to read between the lines to figure out that I love and respect them both very much. On a particularly drunken night last year, when Daisy and I first spoke about me helping them to start a family it initially seemed to me to be a simple decision. However, nothing in is life is simple… Daisy and her partner wanted me to seriously think about whether the choice I was making was right for me. How would I feel about the decision in the future? What would others feel about the decision, especially my family and future girlfriends? How would I feel about being the biological parent but not raising the child?
I thought as long and hard about these questions as my brain would let me. I’ve come to the conclusion that I can answer some of the questions now, whilst the answers to other questions will be revealed to me in time. You can’t predict how you will feel about seeing a child for the first time, I think you just have to experience it firsthand.
One thing I am much more aware of now however, is the difficulties and choices faced by people who, for whatever reason, cannot have or conceive their own children in the conventional manner. The fact that my one decision has brought so much happiness to the future of my two friends is quite overwhelming to me. It has shown me how much people (myself included) take for granted certain aspects of their life. It has brought me closer to Daisy and her partner. Without wanting to sound overdramatic, it has made me a more considerate and better person.
I can’t say that being a donor would be right for everyone because people’s views and situations in life are massively different. However, I feel certain that my decision to be a donor will be a positive experience for all concerned. Everything I have experienced so far has been positive. I would like to say that the staff at the London Women’s Clinic could not have been more down to earth, informative and helpful when it came to the various stages required to be a donor. The donor bank team in particular were friendly and open, which I think are important qualities when dealing with the personal aspects of becoming a donor or recipient.
If you are thinking of becoming a donor and are not sure whether it is the right thing for you, I would firstly advise you to always make your own decision. Family and friends will always be divided on the issue but everyone knows in their heart of hearts the right decision for them. I would secondly suggest chatting to the donor bank team at the clinic and maybe sitting in the waiting room for an hour or so and watching the couples anxiously awaiting their first meeting with the doctor. Putting a real face on the people that you will be able to help might just guide you to a decision.
*Names have been changed to protect the donors’ anonymity
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