The importance of donor information

Back in January I wrote about the very serious business of choosing a donor and how some clinics are restricting the information about donors that they are giving to would-be parents prior to treatment.  This seems to happen particularly with egg donation.  Yesterday BioNews published a Commentary written by Walter and Marilyn Crawshaw on just this topic

And it’s not straightforward.  Whilst I have personally never come across anyone who wants to know which celebrity their donor might resemble, it appears that something of the ‘meat market’ American culture is entering the minds of some potential recipients of donor eggs or sperm.  One clinic has reported recipients wanting to know the educational level of the donor’s siblings as well as the donor themselves and would-be parents discriminating against a donor because of their spelling and grammar.  This is when they have had sight of pen portraits and goodwill messages written by donors prior to treatment.  As someone who values literacy and good spelling I find this last one really difficult because I think I could have been one of these people.  As it was, Walter and I had no choice whatsoever about our donors and maybe that is just as well.  On the other hand, if knowing something about the donor helps recipients feel comfortable about welcoming a donor conceived child into their family and supports them in sharing that information with their child as s/he grows up, then shouldn’t they be able to have all non-identifying information before having this person’s genes as part of their family make-up?

What seems to be needed is much more attention, interest and oversight paid to the collection and recording of donor information by clinic staff.   There are  examples of some very good practice in clinics where a counsellor will see donors to make sure that they understand all the implications of what they are doing.  They can also help them complete the pen-portrait and goodwill message with high quality but truthful information that will be helpful to recipients in the short term and the child as they grow up, but without identifying themselves or using the sort of language that appears to be attracting people to choose them over someone else.  There is also the possibility at this stage of helping correct less than perfect grammar and spelling thus removing a bias that reflects more on class than on genetically inherited characteristics.

The interests of everyone in the donor triangle would be served if there was consistency between clinics about the way in which donor information was obtained, recorded and transmitted to would-be recipients.  And as with many things, a lot relies on HOW this is done as much as the procedures in place.   Those of us who have thought a lot about this would be delighted to assist the HFEA in drawing up guidelines and templates to assist all clinics in consistently fulfilling their eight year old requirements that recipients should receive ALL non-identifying information about donors prior to treatment.  We await their call.

Link here to my January blog on this topic


About oliviasview

Co-founder and now Practice Consultant at Donor Conception Network. Mother to two donor conceived adults and a son conceived without help in my first marriage.
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One Response to The importance of donor information

  1. marilynn says:

    I am in favor of people with offspring being obligated to raise them, and if they cannot raise them themselves they should have to relinquish their obligation for raising the child to adulthood in court so that its clear that all parties willingly accept the transfer of obligations and that all the identities are properly recorded. If we did that all people would be treated equally with regard to their expectations of their genetic parents,

    Who can blame women for wanting to reproduce with men that have qualities they find attractive? They are making a baby together after all. There is no circumstance where a woman would not know the physical characteristics of the man who got her pregnant except violent rape by a stranger while she was unconscious. There is no circumstance where a man would not know the characteristics of the woman he got pregnant except….nothing, there are none that don’t involve ART. So it should work more like a real dating service where the donor meets women who are shopping for someone to get them pregnant. Don’t tnohe donors care whose going to be raising their offspring? I mean forget them being fathers I know that nobody thinks of them that way. But they are pointedly creating their offspring who are little human beings in need of care – if someone handed these guys a newborn infant and said go find a family for this child, they surely would use more care and consideration placing that strange child who is not their offspring, than they do their own flesh and blood. Would they really just leave it to chance? Would they really not want to know anything about the people who were going to raise that child?

    So I think the restrictions on information are foolish and they don’t take into consideration that people normally select mates using those same criteria and that is not eugenics or engineering a designer ba baby – its normal for people to select. 10’s generally go with 10’s etc. Sad but true. Not being able to select creates odd pairs which is fine but it takes the personal responsibility out of it. If you would not want to select someone with bad grammar then its your responsibility to choose someone that does not have bad grammar and its odd to restrict you from doing that. I’d like to see this whole ART thing set up where you could pick someone with good grammar willing to give a child up for adoption without payment and while giving the child the opportunity to know him and the rest of their paternal relatives as they grow up so the child has a normal unrestricted relationship with his paternal side.

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