One of the many things that struck me when watching the very sensitively filmed documentary Donor Mum: the children I have never met last night, was how openness between parents and children in both families had created a climate where donor conception was accepted and fully integrated into the young people’s sense of who they were. It didn’t of course stop Jonathan, Katherine and Elliot from being curious about their donors but was crystallised for me in Katherine’s words towards the end of the film when she said that she had not really been aware of a missing piece in her life but getting to know her donor had provided something in addition. She seemed to be saying that knowing Sylvia had added something important to her world and to the number of people who cared about her. There was never a better advertisement for the services of UK Donor Link or for egg or sperm donation taking place in the UK. Neither of the twins featured last night regarded their donor Sylvia as their mother – they had a perfectly good one in Joan – and Eliot, despite being the child of a single woman (Sylvia) did not seem to be looking for a father but rather information that would add add to the richness of his life. Jonathan and Katherine’s mother Joan, could not have been more welcoming to Sylvia, clearly not perceiving her as any kind of threat to her relationship with her children, but like Elliot, seeing the connection as adding richness and colour to all their lives. Children conceived outside of the UK with anonymous donors will never have the opportunity for links like this to take place, so the need for more egg donors in the UK, and for more people to stay in this country for treatment, is great. Which brings me to the One Show earlier in the evening.
Here we were introduced to a young couple whose only hope of having a family genetically connected to one of them was through egg donation. The message about the shortage of donors in the UK was at first rather a despairing one. There was no mention of egg-sharing and we were left with the impression that the only way to recruit a donor was by finding one yourself, something this couple managed to do by raising awareness of the need in their friendship and work circles. Well briefed by Laura Witjens of National Gamete Donation Trust, Dr. Mark Porter was able to dispel the myths that paying donors or bringing back anonymity is the answer. Raising awareness is indeed the key. So many people just do not know that egg donors are so desperately needed. These two programmes have done a lot to change the climate. Let’s hope the press and other media will take up these positive messages and encourage wonderful altruistic donors like Sylvia to come forward…although such happy and positive connections cannot be guaranteed in all cases.
Latest news following Donor Mum film. I have just heard that 2 million people watched last night and that it is the main feature on iPlayer today. UKDL had received 22 ‘expressions of interest’ for registration by this morning and it is heartbreaking for staff that they cannot just get on with registering them. Come on Anne Milton, get your finger out, this organisation isn’t just like any other charity, this is to do with identity, self and the well-being of families. UKDL REALLY needs a secure future.