Ken Livingstone: The ideal sperm donor?

October 27, 2011 11:29 by PrideAngelAdmin
Ken Livingstone In his new autobiography, the former mayor of London reveals that he helped two friends get pregnant. John Walsh imagines his donation credentials

In his autobiography, You Can't Say That, Ken Livingstone reveals that, in the early 1990s, while living with his long-term partner Kate Allen, he was asked by two women if he would father their children. He obliged with enthusiasm and triumphant success. He gave the first woman, the journalist Philippa Need, a daughter in August 1990 and a son in September 1992. Around the same time, he also helped out Jan Woolf, a teacher and political activist, who gave birth to Livingstone's second son in November 1992, just weeks after the first.

The former, and indeed possibly future, Mayor of London made it clear that in each case he was doing a favour for a friend, "be[ing] around, taking an interest" in the children and "supporting them emotionally", but not living with the mothers.

Ten years later, after his relationship with Allen had ended, and he had got together with Emma Beal, another journalist, he became the proud father of two more children. Despite the potentially awkward convergence of dates in 1992 – which suggest that, while co-habiting with one woman, he impregnated two others simultaneously – the outcome was a happy one, with all three mothers and all five children enjoying summer holidays together.

There is something splendidly patriarchal – something tribal, Mormonite, sultanic – about Livingstone's cheerful polygamous arrangements, and about the casual, even humdrum, way he describes them in his autobiography. It's piquant to find this Lambeth-born working-class hero and Labour MP for Brent East beginning the 1990s by emulating King Mswati III of Swaziland, who had 23 children by 14 wives.

It is an admirable, if not objectively explicable, thing that at least three women were so impressed by his political commitment and strength of character that they settled on him (sometimes not once but twice) to be the ideal father for their babies. But would Livingstone be the ideal sperm donor for everyone? Were he to fill in a form on a donor website, how would it read?

Article: 25th October 2011 Read more www.independent.co.uk

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Sperm donor who finds he has 70 biological children confesses to his fiancee

October 2, 2011 13:24 by PrideAngelAdmin
womans response to sperm donor confesion A lawyer who became a sperm donor and donated sperm to pay his way through college has learned that he has fathered an astonishing 70 children.

More than 15 of those have already attempted to contact 33-year-old Ben Seisler.

The sperm donor confessed to his fiancée as part of a new reality show, 'Sperm Donor', that aired on the Style Network on Tuesday.

Seisler donated sperm for three years while attending law school at George Mason, Virginia. He earned around $150 per donation.

He originally planned to remain anonymous but later joined an online registry called the Donor Sibling Registry that connects offspring and siblings to each other and their donors, Boston Globe reported.

During the reality show Seisler also comes face to face with two of his biological children, a boy and a girl.

The Boston lawyer said there is no 'road map' for the situation he is in now.

'It was kind of wild,' he said after meeting the children. 'On the one hand, these kids are biologically my kids. On the other hand they are not my kids. I didn't raise them. I have no control over how they are raised.'

View You Tube click, where sperm donor confesses to his fiancee You Tube.

Article: 29th September 2011 www.dailmail.co.uk

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Sperm donors think 'father', while egg donors don't think 'mother'

September 28, 2011 21:40 by PrideAngelAdmin
sperm The increasing number of children born through sperm donation, and the fact that many of those children are just now reaching adulthood, is leading to a revolution in the way we define families. A Tuesday Post story examined how children conceived this way are beginning to search for the donors. (University of California Press)

But what do the donors think? How much responsibility do they feel? A new book is providing some answers. “Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm,” (University of California Press, September 2011) by Rene Almeling, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Yale University, provides insights into the relationships between donors, recipients and the children conceived. Over fours years, Almeling studied six sperm banks and interviewed their founders and staffers. She also interviewed 40 donors.

One of the fascinating aspects of Almeling’s research is that she explored how donors, both egg and sperm, perceive their own roles in a family. She found that, despite conventional wisdom, it’s the male donors who feel a stronger connection.

“One of the most surprising things I found was that sperm donors have a straightforward view of themselves as fathers, while egg donors insist they are not mothers,” she wrote me in an e-mail conversation we had about her book. She went on to suggest some explanations for the difference:

“My research points to a long-standing cultural assumption in which the male contribution to reproduction is seen as primary. Indeed, the ancient Greeks, who thought of men as providing the generative seed and women the nurturing soil, would recognize a modern-day incarnation of this formulation in fertility agencies. Sperm donors think of their seed as essential to the child, down playing the role of the recipients. Egg donors insist that their contribution is “just an egg,” pointing to the recipient as the mother, because she is the one who nurtures by carrying the pregnancy, giving birth and raising the child.

Here’s more from Washington Posts Q&A:

Q. With male donors seeing themselves as “fathers,” does it follow that they might be more open to establishing relationships with the children that are created from their sperm?

Almeling: No. In fact, I found that both sperm donors and egg donors were generally willing to meet children who requested it, or at the very least, to provide updated medical information. It is just that the men couched those feelings of responsibility in terms of being a parent, whereas the women did not.

Q. As more and more families are formed using donors, what sorts of ramifications might these perspectives have for the families involved and our cultural definition of family?

Almeling: Reproductive technologies have made it possible to partition motherhood into different elements. The woman who provides the egg, the woman who carries the pregnancy, and the woman who raises the child can each lay claim (or not) to the label of “mother.”

However, in our culture, it is still the case that providing the sperm makes one a father. As more and more families are created through what is called “assisted reproduction,” it will be interesting to see whether definitions of paternity emerge that are as flexible as our definitions of maternity.

Q. Given your research, do you think donors should have more rights? More information? More guidance?

Almeling:Based on my interviews with donors, one of the recommendations I would make is that men be encouraged to seriously consider the ramifications of sperm donation.

Most egg agencies require that women undergo psychological screening, with one of the primary goals being to ensure that they have thought through the prospect of biological offspring. Sperm banks do not require this kind of screening. They are content to let men focus on short-term financial gain rather than long-term implications, and I think it does sperm donors a disservice.

In terms of egg donation, there is a critical lack of data about the long-term effects of taking fertility medications. The egg agencies where I did research did a good job of informing women of risks associated with egg donation, but for women’s consent to be truly informed, those clinical studies need to be done.

Article: 28.09.11 www.washingtonpost.com by Janice D'Arcy

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Alternative Families Show - London 2011

September 15, 2011 20:08 by PrideAngelAdmin
Alternative families show SATURDAY 17TH SEPTEMBER 10 am - 5 pm

Demystifying the process of starting a family
GRAND CONNAUGHT ROOMS, COVENT GARDEN, LONDON

SEMINAR BOOKINGS NOW OPEN EACH SEMINAR BOOKED COSTS £3

• Thinking of becoming a parent?
• Want to understand the options available to you?
• Are you considering IVF, adoption or surrogacy?
• Want to understand your rights as a parent?
• Need help deciding on known or anonymous donors?
• Want to find support networks for same-sex parents?

A one-stop shop for anyone wanting to become a parent. The Alternative Families Show brings together all the information you need to make informed choices on parenthood. For the the lesbian and gay community, this is your opportunity to get some real facts surrounding same-sex parenting, co-parenting, surrogacy and much more.

Exhibitors 2011 include the following:

The lesbian, gay and bisexual charity. Stonewall played a key role in lobbying for important legislative changes for gay and lesbian parents.
www.stonewall.org.uk

Pride Angel is a leading worldwide connection site, fertility forum and blog for lesbian, gay, single and infertile couples, wishing to become parents through co-parenting and donor conception.
www.prideangel.com

British Association for Adoption and Fostering. Family finding, publications, training, conferences, consultancy, campaigning and advice.
www.baaf.org.uk

Over just the past 8 years, the BSC have matched over 35 couples and singles with surrogates, both traditional and gestational, and with egg donors, producing 45 babies! All of these couples have been matched with surrogates in the USA. Now with recent law changes in the UK and the positive encouragement from the UK community as a whole, we bring you The British Surrogacy Centre, dedicated to building families of the future and giving ordinary people the chance to have a family of their own.
www.britishsurrogacycentre.com

European Sperm Bank provides patients with donor choices. They select donors very carefully and use industry-leading donor screening procedures strictly in line with EU regulations.
www.europeanspermbank.com

L Group Families supports lesbians by providing specialist information and advice on the different services within the marketplace in order that they can make informed choices on the best treatment and options available to them and enjoy the prospect of parenthood. Our aims are:To provide support, information and advice to lesbians who are thinking about starting a family, (now or in the future); and to provide a support service to lesbian parents, carers and their children.
www.lgroupfamilies.org.uk

The North London Adoption Consortium (NLAC) is a partnership of five local authority adoption agencies (Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington) and the voluntary agency Norwood. We all work together to provide the very best possible service for children waiting to be adopted and for those wanting to adopt. Working in partnership means we are able to offer a greater range of choice for children and adopters. By sharing information about waiting children and approved adopters, we are able to find new homes for children in a more efficient and timely manner.
www.adoptionnorthlondon.co.uk

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority
Dedicated to licensing and monitoring UK fertility clinics and providing impartial and authoritative information to people considering or going through treatment or donating.
www.hfea.gov.uk

Kites Children’s Services has been established since 1995 to provide quality services for young people who present with sexual development problems which may lead to sexually harmful behaviour. Kites has a multidisciplinary team providing residential, fostering, education and aftercare placements all supported by therapeutic services and external consultants.
www.kitescs.com

New Family Social is the UK wide support network for LGBT adopters, foster carers and their children. We have over 450 families and families to be who share advice and encouragement online, and can find others near them in order to build their local support networks. Most importantly, our regular family events around the UK give our children the confidence of knowing other families like theirs.
www.newfamilysocial.co.uk

and many more exhibitors....

Seminars run throughout the day on subjects from conception, adoption, legal rights, & support networks. The show will give you access to information from top UK advisors in their field.

Seminars wil include talks by leading experts within their field such as:

Family ties and the law: Singles, gays and lesbians
by fertility and parenting lawyer: Natalie Gamble
www.nataliegambleassociates.com

Surrogacy and IVF for same sex couples and singles
by Dr Susan Treiser, IVF New Jersey and Barrie & Tony Drewitt-Barlow
www.britishsurrogacycentre.com

For more information about seminars visit www.alternativefamiliesshow.com/seminar-programme

Gay, lesbian, single, wishing to start a family through using a known donor or co-parenting? visit www.prideangel.com

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Sperm and egg donor's views wanted

August 19, 2011 16:08 by PrideAngelAdmin
donor survey The National Gamete Donation Trust wants to listen to sperm and egg donors!

People think really carefully before they make that first enquiry about becoming an egg or sperm donor. It’s often prompted by the infertility of a close friend or family member. Most donors have thought about it on and off for several years before they contact a clinic.

There’s a big emotional investment, so the way the clinic behaves, especially with that first phone call or email, really matters, just as it matters to be treated decently when you get there.

The National Gamete Donation Trust works with donors on a daily basis and we get to hear lots of donor's stories. Too often the feedback is not good, and yet small changes in the way donors are treated could produce some big improvements.

To carry weight with the people who can make a difference, the Trust needs to prove that changes are necessary. We’re running a survey to gather evidence of what works and doesn’t work, and we need your help.

We want to hear both from donors who have completed their donation cycle and from people who enquired but did not donate. It’s important that donors are treated with respect; it’s also important to acknowledge the kindness that motivates enquirers.

We’ll use what donors tell us to make recommendations on how to treat donors through the whole process of donation, from that first phone call or email to sharing the outcome at the end of the cycle.

When you’ve known people with fertility problems finally achieve their much loved and hoped-for child, it is hard to understand why the people whose precious gift made that possible are sometimes treated so poorly. The minimum donors should receive for this unpaid act of generosity is to be treated well.

Please fill in our survey: www.ngdt.co.uk/donor-satisfaction-survey

For more about becoming a sperm or egg donor visit www.prideangel.com

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Dutch sperm donor with autism, has 20 children after lying about his health

August 15, 2011 21:11 by PrideAngelAdmin
Heartbroken women in The Netherlands have given birth to numerous children with Asperger's Syndrome after a sperm donor lied to them about the state of his health. For 18 months the man's semen has been used despite the fact that he suffers from the hereditary autistic disorder. Incredibly, he is still active as a sperm donor, but not at an official clinic. Dutch media said the man has fathered at least 22 children and several of those are already showing symptoms of autism.

Asperger's Syndrome is a type of development disorder retarding in the development of many basic skills, most notably the ability to socialize with others, to communicate, and to use imagination. Symptoms include children losing language or social skills, an inability to make friends easily, and developing unusual behaviour patterns, such as spending hours lining up toys or developing odd repetitive movements.

Despite passing on his syndrome and lying about his health, the man is still an active sperm donor Asperger's syndrome was named for the Austrian doctor, Hans Asperger, who first described the problems 1944, but it was not recognized as a unique disorder until much later.

The Dutch sperm donor is aged 30 and comes from the port city of Rotterdam. The woman who had babies as a result of his sperm only found out his true identity in the past month. As well as carrying the Asperger's gene, Dutch newspapers said he had also been treated for depression in the past. The women contacted the man via the Internet; this has become a popular method in Holland due to the long waiting lists at offical sperm banks and the high prices they charge.

Waiting periods vary from six months to two years and prices are usually between 500 and 1,000 pounds. The long waiting lists have also led hospitals to give preferential treatment to heterosexual couples. As a result, many single women and lesbian couples find it is much faster and cheaper to find sperm donors via the internet. 'There is a perceived added value in that the women get to meet the potential sperm donor, but the risks are also considerably higher,' said the Dutch newspaper AD. 'Some of the unofficial donors are reportedly only after sex or out to have as many donor children as possible.'

Identified only as Paul, the newspaper claimed he was a 'pathological liar.' Women have come forward to say that they had intercourse with him, or artificial insemination, after meeting him on websites like Verlangennaareenkind.nl and Bam-mam.nl. Those two sites have since banned him but there are fears he will continue to infect women with the autism gene by changing his identity and advertising elsewhere.

Erika co-founder of Pride Angel, the leading parenting connection website added 'This incident emphasises how important it is to personally meet and get to know your sperm donor, finding out as much as possible about their medical family history.' 'Fertility clinics can only perform limited screening tests, therefore personally getting to know a donor before taking them to a clinic for fertility treatment, is the safest form of sperm and egg donation'.

For more information about finding a known sperm or egg donor visit www.prideangel.com

Article: 14th August 2011 www.dailymail.co.uk

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Sperm donor's altruistic reasons for helping women have children

July 28, 2011 12:58 by PrideAngelAdmin
Simon has two sons, aged 15 and 13, from a failed marriage, who live with him, and a six-year-old daughter from a later broken relationship, who lives with her mother. The 37-year-old divorced former business manager thinks he has a further five children, aged between two months and six years, living in Britain and another eight in countries including Australia, South Africa, Poland and Spain. He admits it could be more, but he plays no part in their upbringing — emotionally or financially — and has absolutely no desire to.

‘If, when they turn 18, they turn up at my door wanting to know who I am, then they would be more than welcome,’ he says blithely. ‘But I am not their father in the true sense of the word and never will be.’ Simon is a freelance sperm donor who offers what he jokingly calls his ‘magic potion’ over the internet to women desperate for children.

They make contact on various internet forums, where women post adverts seeking sperm donors or respond to his posts offering his services. He says the majority of his clients — more than 50 per cent — are lesbian couples, around 40 per cent are single women hoping to beat the biological clock and the rest are heterosexual couples where the man is infertile.

Simon is doing nothing illegal. By offering fresh instead of frozen sperm, his activities fall outside the regulations laid down by the Human Fertilisation And Embryology Authority, which governs licensed sperm banks.

'I'm not doing it for the money. I want to help people who can't afford to use a fertility clinic' Countless appointments have been suddenly postponed because one of Simon’s ladies is ovulating and he is urgently required elsewhere. One day he’s in Bognor Regis on the South Coast; the next in Sheffield, the day after he’s needed in Colchester, Essex. On his travels, he carries his ‘kit’ — a sterile plastic pot in which to deposit his sperm and some sterile syringes for the women to inseminate themselves with, without needing a turkey baster.

But if you were desperate for a child, would Simon’s DNA appeal? A tall, lean, friendly man opens the door to a small, messy detached house littered with his sons’ musical instruments and other teenage detritus. Blond and blue-eyed, the initial impression is of a slightly flaky hippy; an unconventional laid-back character who prefers life in the slow lane.

But appearances can be deceptive. ‘I don’t smoke, I don’t take drugs, I hardly drink and we don’t have junk food in the house. I won’t even eat sausages,’ he says sipping on fresh mint tea. A health and fitness fanatic, he swims, runs and is converting his garage into a gym. His body is clearly a temple. Single since his last relationship broke down last year, he’s lacked the time and energy to commit to another. With two broken relationships behind him, he’s not sure if he’s cut out for marriage.

He used to be the manager of an award-winning aromatherapy firm, which was founded by his Greek-born mother, Franzesca. Simon, who was privately educated and studied aeroplane mechanics in Canada after school, held the position for eight years until he decided he didn’t want to work 65-hour weeks.

Now, he does not work and lives frugally, eking out the savings he amassed during his business career. Simon’s house is owned by his parents, who have retired abroad, so there is no mortgage to pay. He claims to charge around £50 for each sperm donation, plus his expenses — little more than he’d receive if he donated through a clinic. So why bother?

‘I’m not doing it for the money,’ he says. ‘I want to help people who can’t afford to use a fertility clinic. My family, including my parents, know about the sperm donation. My father, who paid a fair amount for my education, keeps saying: “I want my money back.” ’ Given that Simon is not prone to self-analysis, it is hard to unravel what his motives are for becoming a freelance sperm donor. What’s in it for him?

‘I’d read there was a shortage of sperm donors and, though I had two boys, I’d always wanted three kids, so it seemed a good idea.’ Simon applied to an NHS fertility clinic attached to a teaching hospital in London and after undergoing a barrage of medical tests to ensure he carried no sexual or hereditary diseases, he was accepted as a donor. His GP records were also checked for a history of psychiatric illness.

He was paid £20 plus expenses each time, but has no idea if any of this sperm — screened and then frozen for storage — produced any children. When, in 2002, Simon met his last partner, a Korean languages student, he put the sperm donation on hold, but resumed it shortly after the birth of their daughter. He says this was with his partner’s blessing, but not long after, she moved out with their little girl. ‘She didn’t get on with my sons and it was easier for everyone if we lived apart, but we were still together,’ explains Simon. ‘Then she met someone else.’

Simon denies it was a mid-life crisis that drew him back to sperm donation. He says he does not quiz his clients as to why they want children and would only rule someone out if they were obviously mentally unstable. 'It's better than getting pregnant by a stranger in a nightclub. You can’t ask about sexual health or hereditary diseases in those circumstances, can you?'

‘If people have gone to the trouble of finding a sperm donor, then they’ve usually thought hard about it and I know the child will be wanted,’ says Simon, adding that months of communications often take place before he donates sperm. ‘Most of the people I deal with seem pretty normal.’ This sounds slightly cavalier and he admits that sometimes couples break up before he gets round to donating sperm. But Simon insists he is not reckless.

Every three months, he pays £200 for a full sexual health check at his local genito-urinary clinic and another £35 for a letter for his clients stating he has tested negative for HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhoea. ‘Well, it’s better than getting pregnant by a stranger in a nightclub, isn’t it?’ he says. ‘You can’t ask about sexual health or hereditary diseases in those circumstances, can you?’

Simon will travel anywhere in the country to meet the women who contact him. Some reject him, some change their minds and some choose him after they are satisfied he is suitable and will not pop up later on demanding parental rights. Some he rejects. Some women never conceive. ‘I had one heterosexual couple where the man had undergone a vasectomy, which could not be reversed,’ says Simon. ‘This was a second marriage; he already had children from his first and he wanted her to be able to have children. I also had a single woman who contacted me, but I had to turn her down as she was looking for a co-parent.

‘I am still in contact with one lesbian couple who had a child by me. They send me photos of the boy, who’s five, and I speak to him on the phone. He calls me Dad. ‘I have no yearning to see the child. I’m happy to send Christmas and birthday cards or letters, if that is what the family wants, but nothing more than that.’

Simon has also helped a single woman who already had one child conceived with sperm from another donor, who declined to help her a second time. She was desperate for a sibling. Another young woman asked Simon to be her donor because her family had a history of early hysterectomies due to cancer and — because she had yet to meet a suitable partner — she wanted to have a child sooner rather than risk delaying.

Of the lesbian couples he has helped, he says one partner has sometimes had children from a previous heterosexual relationship, but wanted her new female partner to be able to have a child too. 'I never wanted to be involved in the lives of these children but I have a responsibility to them' Since a change in the law, sperm donors no longer have the right to anonymity, but Simon is happy for any offspring to know his identity. ‘I never wanted to be involved in the lives of these children,’ says Simon. ‘But I have a responsibility to them, if they want to know who their biological father is. But I’m not expecting them to throw their arms around me crying “Dad”.’

Furthermore, what’s to prevent his offspring meeting one day, unaware they are related and forming a relationship? The Human Fertilisation And Embryology Authority (HFEA) regulations state that donor sperm should result in no more than ten births to reduce this risk. But Simon helps on average one person or couple a week — sometimes donating sperm more than once to these clients, typically two or three times.

There are other potential problems, too. Men who donate through a sperm bank are legally protected from any financial claims on. Simon has no such protection so any of his sperm-donated children could make a claim on him or his estate following his death. But he seems blind to the potential hazards. Instead, he naively prefers to think of his offspring as a big global happy family. He imagines all these half-siblings meeting one day and forging friendships.

Not unlike his mother’s Greek family in Andros where, he says, you can’t walk down the street without someone pointing out a first or second cousin twice removed. It doesn’t cross Simon’s mind that his offspring might grow up angry, confused or unhappy over the circumstances of their birth. He says that can and does happen in more conventional families, anyway.

‘There’s no point in worrying about things in the future, which may never happen,’ says Simon cheerily. ‘I’d rather sit in my garden playing my guitar.’

Article extracts from: www.dailymail.co.uk 28th July 2011

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HFEA agrees first decisions about sperm and egg donation following review

July 18, 2011 20:06 by PrideAngelAdmin

The UK's fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), has made its first set of decisions following the outcome of its recent consultation on sperm and egg donation, known as the Donation Review. Having analysed responses to the Donation Review, HFEA staff asked HFEA members to approve a series of recommendations at a meeting on 13 July. All of these recommendations were ultimately approved, but in several instances the decision had to be put to a vote and there was a dissenting minority. Additionally, the wording of some of the recommendations was amended during the course of the discussion.

The most straightforward decision made by the HFEA was that the maximum number of families which a sperm or egg donor is permitted to create should not be changed, and that the current maximum limit of 10 should remain. The HFEA also resolved to take steps to encourage clinics to make optimum use of the donor sperm already available, because there is currently a disparity between the maximum number of families that that an individual donor is permitted to create and the number of families that are actually being created from the sperm of individual donors. (The precise size of and reasons for this disparity are disputed).

The HFEA also decided to issue guidance stating that sperm and eggs should not be mixed if they come from very close genetic relatives (for example, brother and sister or father and daughter). If such mixing took place in vitro then this would not technically fall afoul of the UK's legal prohibition on incest. Such mixing is never known to have occurred, but the HFEA decided it was appropriate to issue specific guidance on the matter at this time.

The mixing of sperm and eggs of close relatives is a very different matter from the replacement of someone's sperm or eggs with sperm or eggs donated by a close relative (for instance, a man's wife being fertilised with his brother's sperm, or a woman becoming pregnant with a child conceived using an egg donated by the woman's mother). It was decided that this sort of replacement of sperm or eggs within families should remain permitted, but that 'best practice' in this area should be formulated by the HFEA, in collaboration with professionals and interest groups. It was also decided that clinics should be required to submit data about this sort of donation to the HFEA, so that its prevalence can be established.

Finally, the HFEA considered whether donors should be permitted to place conditions on the use of their sperm and eggs, and if so, then what sorts of conditionality should be permitted. For example, should a sperm donor be permitted to specify that their sperm cannot be used (or alternatively, can only be used) to treat a lesbian, or a single woman, or a woman of a particular ethnicity, religion or age? This is an area where two different parts of UK law (fertility legislation and equalities legislation) are potentially in conflict with one another, and therefore it poses a difficult problem for the HFEA.

The HFEA eventually decided to permit the placing of conditions, but to issue guidance qualifying this permission according to different contexts. This decision was made despite vocal dissension from some members, who wanted the placing of conditions to be prohibited apart from in exceptional circumstances.

The HFEA will make a further set of decisions based on the outcome of the Donation Review later this year. This next set of decisions will concern how much and what sort of compensation (financial and otherwise) sperm and egg donors should be permitted to receive for their donation.

Article: 18th July 2011 Bionews 616

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Thirty years of IVF fertility treatment

February 3, 2011 16:24 by PrideAngelAdmin
IVF treatment The birth of the world's test tube baby heralded a new era of fertility treatment, and thirty years on 12,000 IVF babies are born every year in Britain alone.

The development of In Vitro Fertilisation, or IVF as it is commonly known, meant doctors could fertilise a woman's egg in a laboratory, before placing it in her womb to develop.

Since Doctors Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards artificially orchestrated the birth of Louise Brown, IVF has undergone a substantial amount of progress.

Along with steadily raising the rate of success in IVF treatment from their earliest ventures, scientists used the contraceptive pill to more conveniently schedule IVF cycles, making the process easier for doctors and patients.

They also perfected the technique of freezing and thawing embryos, making the technique significantly more effective.

In 1992, researchers developed a method of injecting a single sperm cell directly into an egg, greatly increasing the chances of fertilisation for men with low sperm production.

Increasing effectiveness of the treatment has also meant doctors can implant fewer embryos into the womb – reducing the chance of multiple pregnancies.

And the latest development is a screening process which screens embryos for genetic faults, checking the baby's chromosomes against those of the parents to give it a greater chance of survival and good health.

But these advancements have gone hand in hand with criticism of IVF on both moral and clinical grounds.

Opponents of research into IVF included Enoch Powell, who in 1985 submitted a bill to Parliament which would have prohibited any further embryo research if it had been passed.

Questions have been raised over the ethics of being able to ‘screen’ embryos for potential genetic traits, either good or bad, before they are implanted – the so-called “designer baby” argument.

Some groups have criticised the treatment for allowing same-sex couples and single or unmarried parents to have children, while the Catholic Church opposes IVF because it involves “discarding” embryos.

Critics of the process cite studies that claim IVF increases the chance of birth defects – though other evidence contradicts this.

There is also criticism of the fact that more than thirty years of advancements have failed to bring the success rate of IVF above 30 per cent for women aged under 35, while for older women the chances of a live birth are even lower.

But doctors expect that a better understanding of which embryos are most likely to be successfully implanted will improve the chances of conception in the future, with the hope that pregnancy rates will rise significantly higher than 50 per cent.

Further advancements are expected to mean only one embryo is implanted at a time in virtually all cases, while efforts are also being made to make the treatment more “user-friendly”.

The formerly gruelling process, which involved a 10-day stay in hospital, has already been reduced to two blood tests and an ultrasound for most women, but the length of cycles and amount of testing required are expected to reduce as technology improves.

Article: 2nd February 2011 www.telegraph.co.uk

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Sperm donors deserve more praise

December 20, 2010 22:32 by PrideAngelAdmin
praise for sperm donors A FRIEND recently revealed he had fathered a baby. No cigars though, just a carefully worded statement. "I have been told there is a pregnancy, but I don't know the mother, or when the baby will be born."

Say again? My friend explained that after 20 years of thinking about it, he had become a sperm donor. Which made the whole thing a bit tricky. Is a pregnancy something a donor also gets to celebrate?

My friend saw my dilemma and said he wasn't going to have children of his own and at least now he would have the satisfaction of knowing he had helped a family achieve its dream.

That is a generosity of spirit I hadn't considered before. We often sing the praises of organ donors, but who gives thanks to the sperm donors?

My friend said the journey wasn't easy and there were the doubts: "Am I up to the job fertility-wise? Will I feel too old if a child seeks contact 20 years later? What would my partner and family think about it?"

He admitted it was a tug on the heartstrings knowing that he would never be more than a donor number and that another man would be the father of any children.

But just the same, he gained a lot of satisfaction from the thought that any parent who went down the track of IVF was "OK in my books".

"Full marks to any man who consents to accept donor sperm as part of his efforts to become a father. And praise to his partner for helping him through such a time," he said.

I was so touched by his motivation and how deeply he had considered all the factors and yet I think most of us take the whole process of sperm donation for something to even snigger about, to our shame. The fact is many IVF clinics desperately need more donors.

You need to be altruistic -- as there is no payment -- and committed, because new laws now require a lot more effort. And, disappointingly, all accessing IVF must now have criminal record checks and counselling sessions.

Donors must also accept that any child born can make contact with them when they turn 18.

Some may struggle with that, but my friend said, if anything, that helped his decision to become a sperm donor. "Everyone has the right to know their genetic heritage," he offered.

In my mind requiring a criminal record consent is an insult and only adds a further layer of stress to couples already doing it tough.

Dr Russell Dalton, director of Ballarat IVF, called for some debate about it. Perhaps the new State Government can look at this. Over to you, Mr Baillieu.

Article: 19th December 2010 www.hearaldsun.com.au

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