Sperm Donors: Perspectives From all Those Involved By Nadja Brunson English 111 Mrs. Erskine 14 December 2014 Nadja Brunson English 111 December 14, 2014 Sperm Donors: Perspectives from all Parties Involved Anonymously donating sperm, can lead to issues because offspring are unaware of important genetic origin within the biological family. Offspring will eventually wish to learn more about their genetic history. Donors often wish to stay anonymous though offspring may desire to discover the identity of their donor parent. The concept of artificially donating sperm is often seen as a modern medicine. However, the process dates back as far as the 1790’s. This is when Dr. John Hunter had artificially inseminated a woman. After this success, physicians were performing this procedure with discretion. The procedure was not publically known until 1954. It was greeted with controversy. The idea of using another man’s sperm to inseminate another’s wife was scandalous (Sonia Fader). This notion was not accepted until 1964, when Georgia was the first state to pass a statute legitimizing children conceived by artificial insemination (Fader). Many sperm banks opened soon after. This helps couples around the world conceive a child when one of them is sterile. The science of this procedure has been developed and practiced over many years to help infertile people conceive. The men provide a sample either at the sperm bank’s facility or with an overnight collection kit. Once it is collected the donation, is tested for many diseases. Brunson 2 After it is screened for any complications, the specimen is frozen. Scientists discovered a technique for freezing semen with glycerol, this proved less likely to harm the sperm. (California Cryobank). Jerome K. Sherman studied cryobiology; the study of cells at freezing temperatures. He had taken earlier procedures and perfected the method of freezing and unfreezing sperm (California Cryobank). Semen samples are prepared with a type of solution that will help preserve the sperm sample during the freezing and thawing process. The sample are sealed in vials and are slowly frozen in liquid nitrogen vapor at a temperature of 196 degrees Celsius (Fairfax Cryobank). After thawing, the samples are tested again in order to meet a certain standard and then placed inside a woman’s uterus. The process seems simple enough, but donors have to meet certain requirements before they can donate. Rules and regulations for donating sperm have come a long way. Today, sperm donors must be between the ages of 20 and 39 years of age. Possible donors must be able to work in the United States legally and provide a medical history for both sides of their family (Sperm Bank of California). The Sperm Bank of California, require potential donors to fill out their online application and set up an appointment. The specimen the donors provide must be tested for STD’s and genetic diseases. The donors are also required to write a personal narrative and provide a baby photograph. They must also have a medical exam and meet with many of the Sperm Bank of California’s health workers. These donors will then sign a contract that states that they will commit themselves to their program for about a year, for each sample they provide they will be paid. Every quarter the donors are required to have an STD, urine and blood tests performed on them. Legally, these donors must understand that they are not the Brunson 3 legal fathers to any offspring they father. They will have no financial responsibilities to these children and they have no parental rights. Finally donors sign a contract ensuring their privacy. Donors have many reasons to donate. Many males donate in order to secure their future in reproducing. Many reasons include gender reassignment, cancer treatments, vasectomies or a low sperm count. Men with high risk jobs also donate sperm in the just in case. Donors also donate just to give couples a chance to conceive when they are unable to. Men also donate sperm for financial reasons, at some point in time donating sperm was very popular amongst college students who needed to earn money. Kirk Maxey was one of the most generous of donors, and has calculated that he has possibly had over a hundred children (Martin Bashir). Maxey started donating sperm in the 1980’s where the medical screening of potential donors was simple. Maxey stated that all he had to do was sign a quarter page legal paper saying that he’d be kept anonymous. This is not always the case with donating sperm. Unlike the time period Maxey donated sperm in, today sperm donors are given the choice of “open identity.” This is for sperm donors who are willing to have their information released to the adult offspring (Human Reproduction). Donors who choose anonymity over this option may not want to have any connections to their offspring in the future. Parents are given a choice. They can choose the race of their donor, and virtually any donor that could benefit their offspring. They are sometimes provided with baby pictures, personal narratives, and a background on the donor. More importantly these families can choose anonymity over open identity donors. Almost no parents regretted open identity, when Brunson 4 their child wished to learn more about their donor in a mail back questionnaire (Human Reproduction). Parents who chose open identity did so to avoid not knowing every small detail about their donor. Parents who chose anonymity feared their child will not love them as they might feel a stronger connection with their donor. Donor conceived children often feel like adopted children (Who are you?). Offspring usually never get the chance to meet their biological parent. Offspring begin to wonder about their origins as they grow older. They often have questions like, “Why is my hair red or why do I have blue eyes?” They might even inquire about ethnicities. When children discover they were donor conceived they must have many questions regarding the subject. What was the procedure like? How is that possible? The biggest question being who their donor is? Most offspring who are donor conceived will never get the full picture on who their biological parent is. They can never find out their biological parent’s background because of anonymity. They will never be able to contact the donor in any way. Donor children begin to express uneasiness over their origins, some grapple with the concept from not arising from love and others fear they harbor an unknown disease (Conception Conundrum). The offspring of the donated sperm could potentially be at risk because of this. If the sperm or egg donor, learns more about their medical history the child will not be notified. Anonymity seems to hurt more than benefit society. Regulations should be changed in order to ensure the child’s safety from devastation. For example, right now a donor could discover he has cancer, and not update his medical Brunson 5 records. In the blink of an eye, that donor conceived child’s own offspring has that same type of cancer. Rules should be changed in order to help ensure the child and future generations safe. Some think sperm donations should be kept with open identities, however critics claim that this change would lead to a steep decrease in donors (Number of Sperm Donors). Though many donors could potentially argue that they would have to fill the role of “parent”. This may not be the case. They can still sign over their parental rights with the understanding of both parties involved. Anonymity has a various benefits for the donor, but very few for the offspring. Donors deserve to keep their privacy as it is their right to do so. However, it is not beneficial to the offspring. Rules and Regulations are as thorough as they can possibly be, but do not have any on updating their files when new discoveries arise. Parents and offspring deserve to know everything about their donor before and after the process is completed. Works Cited 20, 2011 October. "Who Are You? The Ethics and Impact of Donor Conception." PBS. PBS, 20 Oct. 2011. Web. 14 Dec. 2014. Associated Newspaper. "Sperm and Egg Donors Lose Anonymity." Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2014. Bashir, Martin. "Confessions of a Sperm Donor." ABC News. ABC News Network, 31 Aug. 2006. Web. 09 Dec. 2014. Bhatia, Rajani. "Constructing Gender from the Inside Out." Feminist Studies. Summer 2010: 260. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 05 Dec. 2014. Bleyer, Jennifer. "A Conception Conundrum." Psychology Today. Nov/Dec 2013: P. 78. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 05 Dec. 2014. "How to Qualify as a Sperm Donor." How to Qualify as a Sperm Donor. The Sperm Bank of California, n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2014. 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