June 2016: A letter from the Editor-in-Chief of Human Reproduction. (This is not a "2016" issue....it's what we have been saying since 2005!):
Many thousands of people worldwide have been conceived with donor gametes but not all parents tell their children of their origin. Genetic testing will make this impossible. Over three million people have already used direct-to-consumer genetic testing. The rapidly increasing availability of cheaper and more detailed tests poses numerous challenges to the current practice of sperm and egg donation: 1. Whether they are donating in a country that practices anonymous donation or not, donors should be informed that their anonymity is no longer guaranteed, as they may be traced if their DNA, or that of a relative, is added to a database. 2. Donor-conceived adults who have not been informed of their status may find out that they are donor-conceived. 3. Parents using donor conception need to be fully informed that their children’s DNA will identify that they are not the biological parents and they should be encouraged to disclose the use of donor gametes to their children. All parties concerned must be aware that, in 2016, donor anonymity has ceased to exist.
JLH (Hans) Evers, Editor-in-Chief Human Reproduction
I can give my impressions as to which sperm banks I think are more receptive to the needs of donor families. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below are comprehensive listings of Donor Sibling Registry member's personal sperm bank experiences gathered from our Facebook page, old Yahoo message group, and from personal email messages. It's easier to research specific sperm banks, when you can actually seeing comments from people who have had positive or negative experiences with them. Sperm bank web sites are marketing materials, and they may not reflect actual practice. Please note: Per the User Agreement, this is copyrighted material and may not be reproduced elsewhere.
Before you choose your sperm bank, I do hope that you've considered using an "open" or "willing-to-be-known" donor. What many of us parents have learned over the years is that many of these kids do become very curious and want to know about the missing one-half of their genetic and medical background. We have conducted and published quite a bit of research on this issue, which you can read on our " Research " page. Most of us with older children would have chosen open donors, if given a choice. Many parents wish that they'd looked more into the future, beyond pregnancy and motherhood, at what her older children might need and ask for someday. Additionally, with DNA testing a truly "anonymous" donor is a thing of the past.
Some of the larger sperm banks are attentive in the pre-pregnancy stage, but offer no post-pregnancy and donor-child support. Many do not update important medical information on donors. Some simply do not return phone calls.
The problem is that sperm banks don't have accurate records of the children born from any given donor. None update and share medical information amongst families and none adequately educate and counsel their donors. Quiz the bank you decide to use on these things. Ask them how you can know that the donor you choose doesn't already have 33 kids out there and that 12 of them haven't been diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, Autism or Tourettes. Because medical issues like these are not life threatening, the medical information is not shared.
And given that an estimated 20-40% of women never report back their live births to the sperm banks, and that donors are never again asked to update their medical info (their medical form is a snapshot of one day in the life of a healthy college kid who doesn't always report accurately about family history), if there are medical situations, most families don't have the opportunity to learn about this type of information.
Some people are now narrowing down the donors they choose by contacting the families posted on the DSR. That way they can connect with the families that already have children from their donor, see pictures, and learn about any health issues.
I hope this helps a little. I don't mean to scare anyone, I just want to tell you what so many of us wish we would have known when making the decisions that would affect our children for decades to come.
- 2014: Interesting information received from cold calling a few of the largest US sperm banks. If you have any comments to add to this, or to the lists below, please contact Wendy.
- 2016: CANADIANS READ THIS: Health Canada only allows import from Fairfax Cryobank, California Cryobank, Xytex, Seattle Sperm Bank (European Sperm Bank in Denmark): Outreach Health Services has failed its annual safety inspections with Health Canada three times in recent years.
What you should know about your sperm bank/clinic/facility
Your relationship with your sperm bank/clinic/facility is likely to continue for many years, or even decades, especially if medical issues arise. Because of the many sperm bank complaints that we have received over the past 15 years, we have compiled a list of questions that you should pose to your current or potential sperm bank.
Although there are some sperm banks that have accumulated a disproportionate number of complaints, you should inquire to all sperm banks about the following policies, and request that they respond in writing. If they refuse, that might be an indication that you should consider using another sperm bank. 30 Questions for Sperm Banks
Sperm Bank/Clinic Experiences