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John’s experience

Sperm Donor
Biological father
Fertility clinics/banks
Private sperm donations
The process of making private donations tends to follow a fairly consistent pattern. There are many websites that people can use to reach out, and make contact with either private donors or recipients. In my personal experience the search facilities on the websites are fairly limited and don’t allow people to necessarily pick people who are very active or very willing to help or whatever, and so in most cases I found that by far the most productive way of, connecting with people was just to simply message them and say, you know, “hello, here is a bit of background information, if you need any help let me know” and you just make that initial kind of first contact.
Then if people decide that they want to engage in conversation with you then they will. You can send them more information about yourself, they might have lots of questions, they might have hardly any. They might take months to make their decision they might make one instantly. You know, there’s a huge range of different, styles of choosing and the ways of interacting with donors that people use. Predominantly, I would find that people would go ahead fairly quickly, the majority of people would make a relatively rapid decision and predominantly I would be travelling to people.
If I do help people naturally then I do, I expect everybody who I help to go and visit their GP because I think it is important that their GP’s involved in a decision to, to get pregnant. There might be underlying health issues that need to be dealt with and, the GP can give a sense of perspective and reassurance to their choices. And also that gives an opportunity to make sure that all of the, STI checks, are in place. I personally, when I’m active as an NI Donor I have regular STI tests. I’ve never failed one. I don’t know any of my recipients who have failed an STI test.
I think if people were to fail STI tests they would just drop off the radar until they get themselves healthy and then they might come back later. Maintaining good records and keeping track of people, where people live and their contact details, if you have a large number of donor children it is important to make sure that you actively manage that situation. One of the main advantages of being a private donor as opposed to a clinic donor is that you’ve got access to correspondence contact, not as in parental contact or you know, familial contact but correspondence contact with donor offspring. That helps keep everyone safe. You can exchange medical information.
You can make sure that people know where each other live and for some kids it is important growing up to be able to meet and ask questions, so recently I had a child, sort of young, school aged child, who wanted to just ask me basic questions. You know, “where does he live? What does he do?” Just a bit curious and I am very happy to do that. I think it is important. I don’t think the model that fertility clinics have, or the HFEA not the clinics, but I don’t think the model that they’ve got of separating donors from donor offspring is healthy for anybody.
I think that it is not an improper relationship to want to see your donor once or twice a year. For some people it is less, for some people it is more, but it is not improper and I think it is very healthy for both parties and it certainly helps keep everyone safe because if you’re in touch with donor siblings growing up you don’t end up marrying them by accident. That is a really important thing to bear in mind.

John has donated to clinics and via online connection sites for over a decade. Here discusses the benefits and drawbacks of being a sperm donor – but also some of his reasons for providing fertility services within the unregulated sector.

He addresses what is expected of individuals providing the kind of service he offers, including frequent checks for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) when he donates via intercourse, or natural insemination (NI). He also addresses the issue of keeping a register for donor-conceived children, which is especially important if a donor has a large number of offspring.

In the UK, it is thought that the number of sperm donors donating to regulated fertility clinics has decreased in recent years, possibly due to the removal of donor anonymity, a topic we’ll return to in more depth in Week 3. However, there is evidence that growing numbers of private sperm donors are available via the online network.

In this clip, John has asked to not be identifiable. His face is therefore obscured and his words are read by an actor.

Join the discussion: What do you think of the sperm donation service John offers? Is it something you would consider yourself, either as a recipient or a donor? Whatever your personal view, please give your reasons.

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