In light of the Australian based donor, Alan Phan from Queensland who had claimed to have had fathered 23 children in a Daily Mail article. VARTA has launched an investigation where a recipient’s embryos have been confiscated pending the outcome of the investigation. There has been a lot opinions for and against about how many children a donor may help assist in siring, a lot of valid theories and many misconceptions.
A Sperm Donation World poll that was created reported that in the USA 64% elected a preference towards an experienced donor while 30% said it didn’t bother them if their donor had many other children out there. The Australian community’s opinion was different in terms that they didn’t care firstly if the donor was experienced or not at a whopping 75%, this could be due to better legal laws around donor conception at home. However, both communities were less inclined in preference to a newbie donor, both communities recorded a consistent 6% each. Of course, there is no right or wrong answer, it is such a personal journey, we all have different personalities, upbringings and life experiences that help form our views and the Sperm Donation World communities have a wide range of donors that fit the array of preferences.
This blog will analyse some positives for each side, and if we’re missing something feel free to contribute and send in one of your reasons for your choice.
Definition of an Inexperienced donor: Generally, a new donor, this person doesn’t really have any prior knowledge on conception or experience to offer, they won’t really know how to coordinate and the etiquette for donations, can be awkward when both parties are new to this, but hey we all have to start somewhere. Inexperienced donors more commonly have a lower limit of families they help, but some do develop into experienced donors. With the number of resources available on the Sperm Donation World website we hope to pass on that knowledge more quicker than before and help bridge the gap.
Definition of an experienced donor: A donor that has helped several or many families successfully. They have become somewhat educated on how conception works and have developed preparation techniques that might increase a recipient’s chance of conceiving based on their previous experiences. They can normally share their knowledge and help recipients feel more at ease with the process.
Positives for Inexperienced donors
You are steering the ship
Some of us have a personality where we like to call the shots and by choosing a newbie donor you can get to lead the way, while they follow blindly. Most newcomers have no idea on best timing for donations and will go entirely of your word. You can even lead them to donate 4 days in a row, which usually burns a lot of them out and putting them into an early retirement but hey if you like to take the reins a beginner is ripe for the pickings.
Apart from those who experience stage fright a new up and comer is normally excited, and some travel the ends of the earth for their first few donations at least. This vibrant energy can set a positive mood for all parties. Although expressing over enthusiasm can backfire and come across creepy (there’s a balance).
More hands on
Because an inexperienced donor has helped a limited amount of families, you may experience more attention or focus, whether that be via chats or arranging catch-ups. This is great for recipients that love a good yarn, or socially want to catch up and hang out with their donor. Obviously a negative with experienced donors is they have helped more people so their focus is more spread out over more recipients.
Less chance of incest
Although this more a fear than reality it does have logic that an inexperienced donor will have less offspring running around than say an experienced donor. With online donations and good registrars normally acquired by experienced donors it’s not really a major positive but for those that can’t shake that fear it’s a peace of mind resonation.
Less chance of missing siblings
Very experienced and prolific online known donors like America’s Joe Donor and UK’s Simon Watson, can’t keep track because they’re so busy helping the next person and not everyone reports back to them, while they have their own family trees and done DNA testing for everyone to link up, basic law of averages suggests that not everyone will ever be accounted for. From speaking to many older donor conceived people it’s not so much the high number of siblings that bothers them, it’s the ones that are unaccounted for that they don’t know that exist that plays on their mind.
Great for Introverts
We all have different personalities and social comfort levels, as your donor conceived children become older, they may want to explore and have some form of relationship with their diblings. Some Parents do not want to be drawn into the get togethers and avoid these types of social gatherings.
Great for people that are not into extended size families
Recipients who tend to come from smaller size families can’t imagine what it would be like to experience possible greater interactions from other recipients and their donor siblings. Making a donor with limited donations a more comforting choice for them.
Postives for Experienced donors
Fertility and the battle against the clock
Most experienced donors tend to be fertile and get quicker than average results most newbie donors tend to not develop into experienced donors because it takes them a considerable amount of time and effort to achieve a pregnancy with that limitation imposed on them, they’re always going to have a smaller amount of families they helped. While most of our recipients in their 30s plus tend to pick experience over inexperience for that peace of mind insurance, we have witnessed in our community’s older women who have elected going with untried donors, to miss out altogether trying for several months wasting the last of their remaining time, which is saddening when this punt doesn’t take off.
Letting the donor steer the ship
Most recipients spent their life previously avoiding trying to get pregnant rather than look at ways to fall pregnant. It’s not until they start their donor journey that most are quickly googling up new information they had never came across before and it can be quite overwhelming with information overload, an experienced donor can communicate you through certain steps for clarity or point you in the right direction. One woman within the Sperm Donation Australia community wrote “an experienced donor to help with my nerves”. As the process can be quite daunting starting out.
While inexperienced donors can live a healthy lifestyle and eat relatively well, experienced donors learn to base their dietary habits around sperm friendly food. When a donor first starts, he normally doesn’t realise the difference from healthy food and sperm healthy food. There are always substitutes, for me example I haven’t bought a lettuce since and have replaced that with spinach. Even snacking a choice of nuts over potato chips. A good, experienced donor when he eats something, he thinks through his head how is this beneficial to his sperm. This not all about getting quicker successes it’s about ensuring he has done his part by consuming the right ingredients that contribute to strong dna in the sperm to lessen the chance of miscarriage and giving the child it’s best chance at being born healthy and fully functional.
Alan Phan mentions in his Dailymail article “He said it was like a full-time job, requiring him to abstain, workout at the gym daily and take a plethora of vitamins to ensure healthy sperm.” Food these days are mass produced and lack the nutritional value that they once had over previous generations, this is a theory contributed to why sperm counts in men have depleted all around the world in modern times. Vitamins and Supplements help ensure our bodies fulfilled with key ingredients needed for fertility. Taking vitamins and supplements is mind frame and can be costly, but for a donor’s peace of mind can be considered essential. As a recipient though you can offer to purchase an inexperienced donor some vitamins and supps, but you may have to remind him to get into a habit of taking them.
Donating at the correct times (discipline)
While some recipients take offense that a donor may know more about their reproductive system than they do, ego aside it is usually a good thing when you can embrace a donor’s experience and work together as a team and fire back opinions and theories to develop a good donation strategy. If a donor has contributed to several or many pregnancies there is a good chance that he has been following previous recipients’ cycles, keeping record on what days he has donated on and what has yielded the best results.
Most of the recipients within our communities have had less than 3 births and sometimes falling pregnant due to luck or just being naturally being fertile comes into play with their opinions and knowledge in this field, everyone wants to bask in glory when they achieve a first cycle pregnancy. A donor that wants to get quick results seems to become more knowledgeable and has adaptive strategies even based on methods of donating for Ai most tend to stick close to the official Ai guide for optimal results.
Other disciplinary areas can be abstaining, having that ability to abstain in the lead up to peak fertility can be challenging for some donors. Many inexperienced donors start to build up and then they say to agree to donate earlier because they’re having trouble abstaining, while some recipients might think this is great to receive a donation early with the theory of covering all bases, doesn’t usually work that and your fertility sticks will tell you this, but your app perhaps confuses you with the window. An experienced donor knows to the wait and has trained his mind to wait.
For many single men that are transitioning into becoming donors, many are still actively on dating sites such as tinder and can be exposed to potential risks, also the temptation of dating makes abstaining difficult. Experienced donors main focus is healthy baby and of course pregnancy, they’re more inclined to see and provide STD reports, than some newcomers who coming to terms with standards and expectations.
An experienced donor is more likely to be around and honour siblings a couple of years or so down they track. Inexperience donors tend to only stick around for a small duration it’s a chapter that comes and goes as they shift focus on other ventures in life. Some do offer siblings in preliminary talks, but history shows that once a donor usually moves on they’re no longer available in the future.
Ghosting/Not chickening out come ovulation time
Stage Fright for first time donors is real and it happens more frequent than we would like, it’s sadly to be expected if it does happen it’s the risk you take of picking a rookie. An experienced donor well donating become second nature and there is no longer these nerves.
With the reporting function in our Sperm Donation World communities, if a donor has been a member for a decent period, recipients take comfort in that, that they have proven themselves over time. A fear of choosing a new donor is how they might react once a child is born as it’s an experience a new donor is yet to know if he can handle. Reputations are built over time, while new donors join with a clean slate their story is just beginning.
Great for Extroverts
Social butterflies and those who would like to be involved in mothers’ groups and share stories of their children, compare similarities, those who are open minded and embrace the possibilities of potential friendships that can be formed from such a unique pathway. Using an experienced donor may present this opportunity to connect.
Great for people that have come from larger size families
A common theme for recipients who seek very experienced donors is that a great deal seem to come from larger size families whether it be from a dozen plus cousins or 5 plus siblings. They want their own future children the ability to experience something that made their own lives so very special growing up and until this day. I think as adults we reflect back to our own childhoods and how much we cherished play dates and family get togethers that created ever lasting memories which may influence our preference for experienced donors.
Health of children born
The more children a donor has assisted in creating tells a story of an unknown under lying health defects that may arise. If a donor has let’s say 10 children and all 10 children are healthy that can be comforting to know. Especially when health should be one of your highest priorities when considering a donor. Also the more half-siblings your child may have the more chance of finding a organ donor, or bone marrow transplant etc. god forbid.
Donor Experience at Clinic Level
USA Sperm Banks
Sperm banks are largely congregated around universities making it convenient for students to partake in earning some extra money on the side to enjoy their weekends so to speak. Quite often a student would donate at several clinics surrounded by the premises the maximise a weekly income. Due to the lack of regulation and accountability a donor’s sperm in each of the clinics he donates at could be shipped anyway let’s say Australia and then distributed to their local clinics exceeding local laws of X amount of number of families in their state without anyone knowing until it’s too late and DNA sites tell the tale many years later. A clinic donor in countries like the USA, you would have to pick one being comfortable of the likelihood that your potential donor will have more children out there than the ballpark number given to you. A clinic donor can by far exceed a known online donor amount of live births and the large majority of the biggest serial donors in the world are those that come from clinics a money incentive for something that is so easy to do can have that impact and make online known donors like Joe Donor seem like small fry.
There is a lot of confusion set on the limits imposed on clinics as law and how known online donors should also correspond in relation to that. A simple way to put it, it is like comparing apples with oranges. For instance, when you go through a clinic and pick a donor there is a major element of privacy and secrecy associated with it. You could walk past your donor in the street and you wouldn’t even know, his own children could be in the same school, even classroom as your own. The majority of people pick a clinic that is convenient to them, eg. Location and it’s quite common for the families to be in the surrounding suburbs of the epicentre of that clinic, therefore in close proximity of each other. SBS Insight once did an episode that featured a donor conceived lady that found 6 of her diblings through DNA testing. One of the guys lived so close to her that they shared the same local watering hole where they would go and get drunk every weekend and they were none the wiser of each other’s hereditary lineage eeek!
Using a clinic donor there is no gatekeeper (known donor) therefore it comes down to a game of chance in Victoria they believe 10 families is a safe enough risk to run. If each of the families that use that donor at the clinic had two to three children each that would total anywhere between 20 and 30 donor siblings walking around surrounding suburbs. What I find hypocritical in the Alan Phan charade the claims of the article would put him on par with similar numbers to a Victorian clinic donor, except his children are spread out in different states as opposed to a precise one hot spot location.
Yet when it comes to international importation of donor sperm Australian regulators turn a blind eye altogether and it’s accepted that a donor from say the USA, who could have potentially hundreds of children is allowed to have his sperm shipped over here with recipients under the false illusion that they have agreed to have limited number of children born via their donations Episode 12 and 16 of the Sperm Donation World podcast expose all this.
While current laws are at 5 to 10 families pending on state this doesn’t guarantee it will stay that way, some clinics store donor sperm and if they have left over vials, and later down the track there is increase in total families allowed they can use that donor’s sperm again to create a new family, this may lead to diblings being born 10 to 20 years apart? Who knows what the future holds?
Incest and what do the World Health Organization have to say?
If you do your study and look at the reported cases of incest from all around the world. There is a common theme, to be discovered that is the two parties didn’t of each other’s existence. The most common case is when a man has an extramarital affair, and the mistress falls pregnant. The man often moves on and not a word is ever spoken of the “bastard” child’s conception. Therefore, there is no caution for concern in anybody’s mind to even calculate any possibility of such a thing happening to them.
The number of recipients I come across that are paranoid about their children engaging in possible acts of incest when reality you probably have a greater chance of winning lotto. The fear far outweighs the reality, yet I guess the media is largely to blame for this they’re fascinated in these types of stories and heighten the possibilities with over exposure. Most inbreeding realistically happens in old rural towns over generations where people are not among larger populations.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends limits of 10 donor conceived children per a population of 800,000. They look at all stats and figures such current birth ratio per capita when coming up with this figure. Meaning a place like Australia as of 2020 with a rough population of 25 million a donor could have 312 children before it becomes a real risk or concern according the WHO. I can assure you no one in Australia has come close to even hitting triple figures let alone doing it 3 times over.
With a known donor who has a good, recorded registrar it eliminates the risk of incest entirely, if incest is a fear you can’t overcome speak to your potential donors about the systems they have in place to negate such risks. You will find that it’s better to know of say all 20 of them than to not know 10 of them running around at all.
An experienced donor doesn’t become experienced without people being comfortable in using them, a prolific donor doesn’t become prolific without people being comfortable in picking them as a donor not bothered by the fact of how many families they have helped created. Some of us do have preconceived ideas that a person that spends a lot of their time helping others, that it’s a bad thing, that there is a god complex, the word narcissist also gets thrown around out like it’s going out of fashion these days. People need to assess what benefits them and their beliefs and make a choice that suits them and not be prejudice towards other people’s choices. Social media has given people a platform where we may feel a level to preach are own beliefs on to others. Something like picking a donor is an adult decision there is no right or wrong on your choice if you want an inexperienced donor that is entirely up to and you shouldn’t be judged by others it’s a decision that is yours and, in these communities, you’re free from discrimination.
Across all Sperm Donation World communities 66% of recipients claimed that it didn’t matter if a donor was experienced or not and that it wouldn’t factor into their decision, the most important aspect to them was the donors genes, the importance of having a healthy child was utmost importance to them, features and other attributes was also another factor.
I try to view everything with an open mind while I think some of the more prolific donors across the world should have better registrars, I have seen the results of their media work. Joe Donor when he came to Australia his media involvement brought over 120 donors to the community, The Alan Phan debacle brought over 300 new donors. People who may not believe in what prolific donors do there is very strong chance that their very own donor was influenced on becoming a donor from reading about them and that their own children wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for those articles and tv shows featuring them.
As for clinics The Fertility Society of Australia that helps assist the government in recommending legislation can be viewed as biased many of their board members are in senior positions with invested interest into the profits of their own affiliated clinic. It’s hypocrisy how Australian donors at clinics can’t be paid and have a set family limit, yet that all gets bypassed for American donors who get paid and have potentially hundreds of children. But that is ok because the clinics can pass on the importation cost to the customer. It’s all well and good to have a limit but would be nice for them to fix up all the loopholes if they want to be serious about the situation at hand and be consistent with applying the limits for international sperm.
There is no official set limit across the globe for known online donors if they’re not donating via a clinic with limit restrictions. As the Sperm Donation World communities continue to normalize donating and spreading education on the subject, the number of men coming forward to become donors is rapidly growing and it will eventually get to a stage where no donor will have too excessive numbers because of the wide range of choice available.
The evolution of sperm donation continues.