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Archive for the ‘sperm donor’ tag

What are YOU Shopping for in a Sperm or Egg Donor?

By Tracey Minella and David Kreiner MD

February 2nd, 2012 at 7:03 pm

This past year, I crossed paths with a fellow attorney who’d been an egg donor back in law school. She happens to be beautiful. Obviously intelligent. And right after I thought about how generous she’d been, I thought how lucky the recipients were to have her genetic traits in their children. A few months later, I learned that she is unethical, a criminal, disgraced, and is currently awaiting sentencing. Wow. Ya just never know, do you?

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? How about moral character…if you can even measure that?

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

I can’t imagine what a difficult, yet 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 popular 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 traits/qualities would you consider most important if you were choosing a donor?

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Should You Disclose an Egg or Sperm Donor’s Identity?

By David Kreiner MD, and Tracey Minella

June 24th, 2011 at 12:00 am

Does the child’s right to know outweigh the donor’s right to privacy? If so, what impact may that decision have on future donors’ decisions to donate…or not? What, if any, restrictions should be placed on revealing the donor’s identity to the child?

Dr. Kreiner of East Coast Fertility examines this controversial issue:

It has been my experience as well as that of others in the field that many individuals conceived through gamete donation are curious about their donor and the donor’s other offspring. They may fantasize about their genetic parent and siblings. They are curious if they look like them and have similar behavioral traits. They want to know why their donor donated. They almost ubiquitously are curious to meet their donor whether they may want to have ongoing contact or not. The degree of interest is variable where some may simply be satisfied with a picture and information, others may feel comfortable with maintaining anonymity whereas still others feel a strong desire to physically meet their donor. These feelings typically change over time and may become more significant during certain stages of life, such as at the prospect of an individual starting their own family.

Donor conceived individuals may be looking to fill in the blanks in their identity. Rebecca Hamilton, conceived through donation, wrote in Behind Closed Doors: Moving Beyond Secrecy and Shame, edited by Mikki Morrissette, “It’s not a ‘Dad’ I’m after. I had a wonderful Dad who raised me. I’m not looking for a replacement. Nor, incidentally, is any other donor-conceived person I have ever met….Wanting to understand one’s genetic roots is a unique longing that remains no matter how great life is going on other levels.”

Universally, it appears that those individuals who were conceived through donation do not look at the donor as a parent. The donor does not replace the role of the parent. Instead having an open relationship with a donor can provide answers to questions many donor conceived individuals have about their own identity.

So how do I answer the question, “Should I help my child find her donor?”

Professionals in the field tell us that based on research, developmental theory, and my own clinical experience, that it is best for parents to be honest with their children about their origins. In some cases I may recommend providing them with options for obtaining information about their donor. Although many sperm banks and egg donor agencies only facilitate anonymous donations. Some sperm banks offer the possibility of working with a donor who is willing to be identified to your child any time after your child turns eighteen. The sperm bank stores data and provides it upon request. Your adult child is the only one in control of this information. If she wants identity information, it is available for her. If she does not desire to know her donor’s identity, the information is never revealed.

However, it is most common at least in the Northeast that a definitive plan is not established at the outset for how a donor’s identity would be released. Most programs maintain strict anonymity. There is no guarantee that this information will be available for their child. A third party, which could be an agency, medical office, or attorney must obtain the information, and a formal contract, signed by the donor, must state when and how identity information will be released to the donor conceived individual.

Ultimately, as future parents it is vital to examine your feelings and concerns regarding disclosure of the donor’s identity. Disclosure of the donor’s identity may affect the donor conceived individual and his sense of self. Though the donor does not replace the parent there is potential for creating friction in the relationship. There is also the donor’s family to consider which will also be impacted by revealing one’s identity to the donor conceived individual. One must weigh the potential benefit of satisfying curiosities with the risk of causing harm to the relationship with the individual’s parents as well the risk of causing harm to the donor’s family.

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What do you think?

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