There aren’t many things you can do in life that would make such a huge difference to someone else, says James*, about his decision to be an altruistic sperm donor. “It is less effort than volunteering or being a blood donor and yet you can help someone become a parent, the thing that they want above all else.”
“I had no idea there was a shortage of sperm donors full stop – I was really shocked by that. I assumed the only reason more sperm donors were needed was to provide a better match for the male parent. It made me feel quite sad that there aren’t enough people willing to do something that creates a lot of good with minimal effort.
“I have many friends who have had a whole range of different fertility problems – one’s gone for surrogacy, one has adopted, a couple are still struggling – so I’ve seen first-hand what a heartache it is for people.”
“I can’t remember what made me get in touch with Bourn Hall, but I suddenly realised that it was a way that I could make a difference.
“Once you have been screened then it is straightforward. You just ring up when it is convenient to make a donation – you don’t have to stick to a regular schedule – just book a slot and go along.
“Bourn Hall is rather a nice place to go and it’s all very discreet, there’s a sort of separate room tucked away from anyone else. The number of visits you need to make will vary from person to person, you get your expenses paid which is about £35 a visit so you are not out of pocket.
“I think there are misconceptions about donation – people think that you have to be young, but I was nearly 40. Also people worry that there might be a child in the future that has a claim on them, but that is not how it is, neither legally or morally.”
“It’s very clear all the way through that you are not the parent of that child, and you have no obligations to him or her. I think of it as a similar role to a doctor or a midwife. You have helped bring a child into the world but it’s not your child. If you met them later in life you would be pleased and interested but not feel a responsibility for them.
“The process is anonymous and you won’t be given details of any resulting children but you do get the opportunity to write them a message which they can get at 18.
“I am quite relaxed about the possibility of a donor-conceived child making contact one day; I think it would be rather nice if it happened. I am pleased to have been a donor and it’s a good thought that there will be parents that have been made very happy as a result of something that I have done. It seems a mild inconvenience to me compared to the benefit for someone else and I hope more people would consider it.”
*Names have been changed
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