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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