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Choosing an Egg Donor or Sperm Donor

By Dr. David Kreiner and Tracey Minella

October 1st, 2012 at 8:28 pm

photo credit: jscreationzs/freedigitalphotos.net

No one grows up thinking about making this kind of a decision when they get older. We grow up thinking, no—assuming—we’ll get pregnant the old fashioned way. And even if we do entertain the thought that we might need some medical assistance, we likely figure a little Clomid will do the trick. Certainly nothing as emotionally charged as the decision to use donor eggs or donor sperm.

A couple years ago, I came upon a fellow attorney who’d been an egg donor back in law school. She was outwardly beautiful, and obviously intelligent. And a nanosecond after I thought about how generous she’d been I thought how lucky the recipients were to have her genetic traits in their children.

But that got me thinking about what my own “trait shopping” experience would have been like if I’d gone down that path to parenthood. Would I have tried to meticulously match the donor to my own traits, or my husband’s? Maybe I’d try to weed out an undesirable family trait…on his side, of course! What would I consider as the most important factors? Good health, first. But then what? Education? Athletics? A particular look or ethnicity?

Jeez, I can’t even decide between two options for dinner! 

I can’t imagine what a difficult, yet also exciting, experience choosing a sperm or egg donor must be. Oh, the possibilities…

Long Island IVF’s Dr. David Kreiner offers valuable insight into this choice:

Patients selecting donors whether for eggs or sperm often spend endless hours choosing the “best match”. On an episode of the T.V. show “Brothers and Sisters”, a couple was beyond themselves trying to decide and at one point, out of desperation toyed with the idea of choosing by posting the possible donors on a dart board and letting the dart decide.

People verbalize concern about both a physical and behavioral match. Patients assume that the child will resemble the donor. The likelihood that the child physically looks like the donor varies. The inheritance from a behavioral standpoint including personality and intelligence, drive and aspirations is less clear. There is a significant contribution that the environment plays and to the extent which factor will dominate, nature vs. nurture is not known.

I don’t have the answer to this question; it’s one I, myself, have spent much time considering. I’m one of five children and I have four children of my own and, so far, three grandchildren. Though the environment and the genetics of my siblings and my children does not appear to be so different, each of us has developed unique characteristics and personalities; some more so than others.

I think the nature vs. nurture question is like a Jackson Pollack painting. When you raise a child, different colors of nature and nurture are tossed randomly up in the air and what we call “life” dresses the canvas below. Sometimes the painting it creates is breathtakingly beautiful and other times, well… you wish you could throw out the old and start with a fresh canvas.

Now, if you are a conscientious parent, then you are most careful about how and what colors of nurture you toss. With nature however, there is no control over what features are inherited.

So, I tell my patients who are screening donors and are so concerned that their donor has a particular color hair, eye color or even personality type, that they are putting too much faith in just one can of paint that they get to choose to toss up in the air. People with blue eyes and blonde hair have other colors from ancestors that randomly did not appear on their body. But their gametes contain them and these cans of paint could potentially have more impact on the canvas than the blue eyes and blonde hair that the recipient is hoping for.

I prefer a recipient be concerned that the donor is healthy with good odds for successful conception and a generally appropriate match of physical and behavioral characteristics.

Then I pray for G-d’s blessing.

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What would your top considerations be in choosing a donor?

 

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