Does Sperm Donor Mean Dad ?

Sperm donation New York

Since its inception, sperm donation has been shrouded in secrecy. In 1884, Dr. William Pancoast, a Philadelphia medical professor, put a woman under anesthesia and inseminated her with sperm from his most handsome student. It was only when he realized that the child looked just like the donor that he informed the infertile husband. The man's response: Fine, but don’t tell my wife.

Today, donors are still recruited from medical school classes. The women are told what’s going on, but the sperm donors aren’t adequately informed about the consequences of their actions. At one New York sperm bank, each sperm sample was split into nine vials. A frequent donor didn’t realize that he was creating as many as 167 children a year.

The law needs to assure that this process is undertaken in a way that protects the children, the women and the donors.

Men also aren’t told about how sperm donation may come back to haunt them. The donors are generally students who have not yet had children. When they become parents themselves, some begin to worry about what is happening to their “other” children. In large cities, some psychiatrists have created entire practices counseling former donors.

Most donors were promised anonymity. But this low-tech procedure (which some women accomplish at home using a turkey baster) is being overshadowed by a new technology. DNA testing now exposes the parental connection. One enterprising 15-year-old tracked down his anonymous sperm donor by sending a saliva sample and $289 to a genealogical Web site, which allowed him to match his DNA to that of the donor’s family.

Women who are third-party participants in reproduction, like egg donors and surrogate mothers, are provided with detailed lists of risks and benefits before they participate. But the assumption is that men who are sperm donors will never have to give it another thought.

Clinics need to change their practices for dealing with donors, and the law needs to assure that this process, which has been the foundation for millions of families, is undertaken in a way that protects the children, the women and the donors.

Interesting facts
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