When couples struggle with fertility, many of them turn to sperm donors to help them get pregnant.
This process has worked well for many families, but one woman, who used a sperm donor to have a child, says she thinks there should be changes made in the industry.
Wendy Kramer says her son always wanted to meet his biological dad, so she co-founded the Donor Sibling Registry, a website that allows donors and donor-conceived children to voluntarily connect. She says there are now 33,000 users and the website has made more than 9,000 connections.
Families input the name of their sperm bank and their donor number, and see if there are any links with donors or half siblings.
Kramer says it’s very rewarding, but she’s noticed a few things on her website that she finds alarming, like the number of children seemingly fathered by one sperm donor.
“We do know there are groups of 50, 70, 100 all the way up to 150 children for one sperm donor,” Kramer says.
She believes that increases the risk of passing on genetic disorders, and poses the risk that a random meeting of half siblings could turn into accidental incest.
“We hear about random and chance meetings all the time on the donor sibling registry,” Kramer said.
Kramer believes the sperm bank industry needs to make some big changes.
“Donor anonymity is an archaic practice, and it’s something that should be banned,” she says.
She’d like for the donors’ medical histories to be updated over time, and she wants to see some sort of data base that would show if men were donating at multiple sperm banks. But sperm bank directors say this is a complicated issue.
“We cannot control the patient,” said Betsy Cairo with Cryogam, the state’s only commercial sperm bank.
She says her bank does limit the number of pregnancies to eight in the region and 25 in the country, but try as they might, they have a hard time getting information once the sperm goes out to other clinics.
Cairo says every shipment includes a form asking the patient or the doctor to let the sperm bank know if a pregnancy results, but less than half of people even respond.
“If a patient chooses not to disclose, that is her choice, so are you going to regulate the patient?” she asked.
It is a complicated issue. Other countries, including the UK, have done away with anonymity, allowing children born using sperm or egg donation to get information about their genetic parents when they reach age 18.
The donors have no financial responsibility, but some people argue that banning donor anonymity would mean fewer people would donate.
Article: Fox 31 Denver 8th November 2011
Read more about finding known sperm and egg donors worldwide at www.prideangel.com