Men willing to donate sperm help to create more than 800 babies in Britain every year through fertility clinics and hundreds more through personal arrangement – but now we are facing a shortage of “sperm donor daddies”.
As many as 1 in every 6 people will experience fertility problems, and for many infertile couples, lesbian couples and single women – a sperm donor is the only way of achieving their dream of becoming a parent.
But as their identity is protected through fertility clinic donations, little is known about the men who make conception possible. Only the children they create are allowed to learn their names – and then not until their 18th birthday. Here, the ‘Sun’ newspaper talks to three men who have donated their sperm.
Ian Mann, 30
IAN, a gay pub quiz host from London, wanted to help childless couples but stopped donating after learning he carries the cystic fibrosis gene. “I got involved with sperm donating a few years ago when I was at the Manchester Pride Festival. “There was a stand for an organisation called Pride Angel which connects sperm and egg donors with infertile and same-sex couples. “I was at the age where I might have been thinking about having kids. “The fact is, I wasn’t – but it got me thinking about how could I help.
“I signed up at the website for Pride Angel, which offers a completely free service, but for a while I did not connect with anyone I felt comfortable donating to. “You’re put in direct contact with whoever you’re considering and you’re encouraged to keep in touch with your donor family. “Having a child is a huge commitment and I wanted to be certain whoever I was helping was going to be up to the job.
“Around the same time, I also started donating to the London Women’s Clinic (LWC), a renowned IVF clinic on Harley Street. “I was warned that any children resulting from my donations could get in touch when they turned 18. It didn’t faze me. “I figured that the chance of them looking me up was pretty slim. “Why would they bother when they had been brought up by two loving parents? “I was told my sperm were pretty strong, so everything seemed great. Then I had a screening by the LWC. “My jaw hit the floor when the results came back that I was carrying a dormant cystic fibrosis gene. “It meant that if my sperm was paired with an egg that had the same gene, the child would have cystic fibrosis.
“The odds were tiny but, of course, it’s a chance no one wants to take. All my donations were destroyed and that was the end of that. “I was pretty depressed about it and spoke to my mum. She said there was no history of CF in our family. It was just one of those things. “Since then, I’ve got in touch with a couple of women through Pride Angel who are desperate to become mums. We’re sussing each other out and so far it’s going well. “So long as they get tested to make sure they’re not CF carriers as well, my faulty gene won’t be an issue. “I wish other men would consider being donors. There are so many people out there who would make great parents and just need a little help.”
Pride Angel comments: The chance being a cystic fibrosis carrier is 1 in 25 people, so it relatively common. Many people will go through life being totally unaware of carrying the faulty gene, as it will not result in you having a child with cystic fibrosis unless you conceive with another person who in a carrier. When two people with the single mutation have a child, there is a 25% chance that the child will have CF, 50% chance that the child will be a carrier and 25% chance that the child with not be affected.
It is wonderful news to hear about men like Ian who are happy to help childless couples create the family they are longing for.