Sean Tipton, Listen to the Donor Families

By admin on August 03, 2011

In the Council for Responsible Genetics Article from yesterday (, I read this: “The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), which represents fertility clinics across the country, thinks Washington is intruding on donors’ privacy. “Most people, both donors and recipients, still prefer anonymous donation,” says ASRM spokesman Sean Tipton.”

I do wonder if Sean Tipton, has been reading any of the research that has been published over the past few years. I wonder if he has read any of the 14,000 messages posted on the DSR’s message board since 2000. Any of the other websites and blogs written by donor offspring? News articles about donors, offspring and parents? Wouldn’t you think the ASRM would want listen to these folks, those whose lives are directly affected by the policies that the ASRM puts into place?  It does appear that they are operating under, and still advising upon, the system that they set up decades ago, without listening to the lessons that all of us in donor families have learned over the past couple of decades.

The journal Human Reproduction recently published research on 751 donor offspring. 77% of the surveyed offspring recommend that parents use a known or willing-to-be known donor.  In resent research presented at the ASRM meeting last October, 164 surveyed sperm donors were overwhelmingly open to contact with their offspring, challenging Mr. Tipton’s outdated idea that most donors wish anonymity. What we have found is that the young donors who are not properly counseled and educated do tend to choose anonymity. 61.2% of surveyed sperm donor recipients who chose anonymous donors, say that they wish they had chosen open donors instead. Again, no proper counseling and education at the front door of the clinics and sperm banks. 49.3% of surveyed egg donor parents who used anonymous donors now wish they would have used an open donor.  And remember, many of these children are still young and just have not started asking their parents the unanswerable questions yet.

Mr. Tipton then goes on to say, “We think families and donors ought to be allowed to make decisions in terms of anonymous vs. non-anonymous donation.” Sure, but what about requiring education and counseling at the front door so that donors and recipients can make fully educated decisions.  The DSR has more than 31,000 members now, and many of the donors and recipients come to us with the same sentiment, “I wish I would have known.”

For years, you dismissed us calling the information “anecdotal”. You asked for the research. Now that there is research coming out on a regular basis, won’t you read it? (Many of our research participants come from outside of the DSR, and outside of the US, so the response reaches far and wide.)  Won’t you invite the donors, parents and offspring to participate at one of your meetings? Instead of debating anonymity amongst yourselves, maybe open up the conversation to include us?