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The benefits of early contact

Early contact
Making babies in the 21st century
Andrew Lockley
If you are looking at UK sourced gametes the information you receive will be very, very sparse indeed. If you are looking at imported gametes you may, may get much richer information. And that is obviously very helpful when it comes to choosing the person that you are going to use. Obviously if you want regular input into the child’s life, growing up, you know, the odd weekend visit, that kind of thing, it is very difficult if your donor is overseas and, even if you have a lot of information on that person typically in a clinical environment you can’t contact them anyway.
So, it is not necessarily the distance that is the problem, it is the anonymity and the lack of contact-ability that you have that means that your relationship with your biological parent, will, will be constrained. But nevertheless, you know, I do think it is very important that people do get an adequate supply of information. I think one of the big limitations of the UK system is that it doesn’t allow people to, have ad-, in my view, adequate information about the people that they are choosing to use.
The drawbacks of the regulated model, I mean, apart from the choice which is the main thing, you know, not being able to really understand who you are using and often not having a good range of people to choose from. Principally you get to meet and know the person that you are dealing with if you’re in the unregulated sector whereas you don’t if you are in the clinic sector. People might have queries about medical history.
They might want to know about the donor’s achievements, whether they are still alive or not and many different things that will, play on the mind of a parent or a child and having the ability to make contact with that donor, is in view very important for the psychological health and wellbeing of children who are donor conceived. Many of the features of private donations are not something which is not necessarily things which are specific to private donations. They are just a feature of how the system is set up at the moment. So, it is not impossible that you could have for example video interviews with donors before you selected them.
It is not impossible that you can have clinic donations where you have the right to make early contact. a sperm donor for example could opt-in to have contact before 18 if they so wished. Now what you’re what we are comparing to is the current regulated system and the current private system. My argument is that many people might argue for the benefits of the current regulated system and I would agree that there are some, could continue to have those benefits, the system could have those benefits while borrowing many of the beneficial features from the private sector as well, the unregulated sector.

Andrew Lockley has been involved with a range of businesses and projects in the fertility sector. He’s advised teams on both a commercial and pro bono basis in areas as diverse as fertility technology, surrogacy, sperm banking, and private donation websites.

In this interview, he highlights the benefits of donating outside of the regulated clinics, including the fact as a known donor in the unregulated sector, he is able to be involved in a child’s life from the beginning, rather than waiting until the child turns eighteen.

Andrew suggests that a good way forward might be to combine the best features of the regulated sector with some of the merits of the unregulated sector. This could include earlier access for parents who wanted to have that, more information about donors released to prospective recipients, and a register for unregulated donors.

For discussion: Do you think Andrew’s suggestion of combining the best of both worlds could work? Which features would you keep from each sector?

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Making Babies in the 21st Century

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