Approximately one in six couples will be affected by infertility, and for many of these people, the ability to become parents will only occur with the help of an egg, sperm or an embryo donor.
Some fertility clinics, such as Repromed, offer a donor program, so what does that mean? Donation simply refers to a third party donating the eggs or sperm or embryos, and that can be used by the recipient couple or parents to create a family.
Repromed has the longest serving donor program in South Australia. It’s important to use an assisted reproductive facility if you’re going to be using donor gametes, because it makes it safer in the long run.
There are four groups of people who may wish to use a donor program. Single women who wish to solo-parent. Heterosexual couples where one or both of the couples may wish to use donor eggs or donor sperm, and that may be because of a quality issue, or it may be because of a genetic issue. A third group is women in a same-sex relationship who may wish to access donor sperm, and then another group is males in a same-sex relationship who may need to access an egg donor as well as a surrogacy arrangement.
The law in South Australia changed as recently as March 2017, so that no person can be refused fertility treatment based on their gender, marital status, sexuality, or their religion. This means that single women or a woman in a same-sex relationship have access to fertility treatment without needing a diagnosis of infertility.
There are different types of donors that can be used at Repromed. First of all, there’s recipient-recruited donors, someone that you may know that you have asked, or has offered, to be a donor for you. Another type of donor is the clinic-recruited donor, and this is someone who may have come to Repromed and offered to be a donor. And then their investigations and their screening has already been carried out.
Another group of donors are donors accessed through overseas clinics. People who come to Repromed have access to people from California Cryobank for sperm donation who meet the Australian criteria. And lastly, there’s another group of people who may actually wish to travel overseas for their donation, and they may be able to be helped by Repromed in the initial stages of that process.
At Repromed, all our donors have thorough medical assessments. All donors have at least two counseling sessions so that they’re fully aware of all the implications of donation. All donors are screened for a set of infectious diseases, for example HIV, hep B, hepatitis C, syphilis, and some basic genetic screening as well.
If you were to access clinic recruited donation, how much information do you actually have about the donor? Once counselling is completed, you could be offered several donor profiles, in the case of sperm donation, and you might have an eight-page profile with information about the donor, and this would include their physical details, their level of education, a little bit about their personality. It’ll include their medical history and their family history, and you could be offered a couple of those donor profiles. Alternatively, if you were accessing California Cryobank then you can access their website and have a look at those donors who fit the Australian criteria.
It’s important to realize that the donor is purely a donor. In other words, for the donor there is no financial or legal responsibilities or obligations for the future. They have been asked to update their medical information, and they must agree to identifying information being given to offspring after 18. On the birth certificate, the parents are listed if the recipient’s in a relationship, or just the birth mother’s name, if it’s a solo parent. And it’s important to realize that the donors are never listed on the birth certificate.
In Australia, it’s illegal to pay anyone for gamete donation, so we are unable to go through with a donation if there’s been offers of gifts or payments for the donor. Any reasonable expenses can be reimbursed such as travel expenses or loss of income.
Repromed understand that the decision to start a family using donor gametes is a very big decision, and that’s why they have a dedicated donor team to help with that process.
If you are considering using donor sperm or donor eggs or donor embryos you should get a referral from your GP or your specialist and contact Repromed.