Webinar: Fertility treatment with donor sperm and what it’s like to be donor-conceived
How to go about ordering donor sperm for fertility treatment and what is it like to grow up being donor-conceived? In this webinar, CEO and Founder of Fertility Help Hub, Eloise Edington talks with Milagros Ruete from Cryos about fertility treatment with donor sperm, donor profiles and donor motivation and to Emma Grønbæk about her upbringing, personal experiences and thoughts about being donor-conceived.
Here you can watch the webinar, read more about Milagros and Emma and some of the key takeaways from the webinar:
Q&A with Emma
About Emma Grønbæk:
Emma Grønbæk is a donor-conceived child. She has always known that her biological father was an anonymous sperm donor, and she has never experienced any shame or loss despite this. Her main goal is to try to change the perception that donor children have less quality of life, because they may not know who their biological father is. Emma has written a book telling her story of being a donor child and just about infertility in general. She also has her own blog where she shares experiences and thoughts. Emma is currently studying nursing, and she will finish her degree in January 2021.
How did your parents tell you and when?
“My parents made a children’s book with many drawings and pictures. It was a very personal book and we read it as a bedtime story. It was about how they struggled to have kids and how happy they were when it finally happened. It was about the process of how you make children with the help of fertility treatment. So, I have grown up knowing the whole story and how everything happened and then gradually I understood more and asked more questions when we read the book.”
With your own experience, can you expand on your thoughts about the right time and way to tell a child that they are donor-conceived?
“I believe that the sooner you tell the better. I think that it not coming as a shock at any point in life is the best way to go about it. Children understand more than you think and this way they have the opportunity to ask questions. Children are more likely to ask questions and talk. If you wait maybe they won’t ask the questions that they need to.”
In your opinion, what has been the best and the worst thing about being born through gamete donation?
“I think the best thing is that I have always felt very wanted and very loved. I have always known that my parents wanted me so so bad.
The worst thing is probably that it took me 20 years to figure out that I was lactose intolerant and that this was the reason for my stomach pains when I drank too much milk.” (The lactose intolerance is something Emma believes comes from her anonymous donor).
Do you know if you have any half-siblings?
“I was quite old before I thought about the possibility of having half-siblings somewhere, but I think that I have always thought that they have their own family and I have mine. I never felt a need to go out and know more.”
Bonding with your dad – your feelings and his?
“I have always been very close to my dad. I never felt any different from my half-sisters, who are my dad’s biological children. My dad is like other men, who are not too fond of sharing emotions, but he has always been very open and honest when I have had questions about my donor or anything else.”
How is it growing up without ever being able to meet your donor?
“As my donor is anonymous, I know nothing about him. I don’t even know my donor number. I never had any wish to know anything actually. Having an anonymous donor has for me been kind of a relief. I didn’t have to make a choice of knowing or not knowing as I would maybe feel like I needed to in another situation.”
Q&A with Milagros from Cryos
About Milagros Ruete:
Milagros Ruete is the Clinic Account Manager at Cryos and she works on developing relationships with clinic partners and assisting clients from different countries at all stages in their fertility journeys. She holds a Master’s degree in Political Economy from the University of Chicago and is currently pursuing an advanced degree in Strategic Marketing. She is based in Cryos’ headquarters in Aarhus, Denmark.
Why do people decide to become donors?
“I think it is not a coincidence that we have many donors in Denmark. There is less stigma associated with donation in Denmark than there might be in other parts of the world. A lot of the donors tell us that they are generally inclined to become donors because they know someone who struggled with fertility and we have donors who have their own children and who want to help other people have the same joy in their life.”
Learn more about the Cryos donors here.
How do they become donors?
“We only accept 5-7 out of 100 that apply to become a donor at Cryos. They send us an online application; we review it and then we invite them to come in and talk to us and provide us with a sperm sample. We want to make sure that they have good sperm otherwise there wouldn’t be any reason to continue.
If they have excellent sperm, we can begin the medical checkups, the interviews, the psychological evaluation and physical examinations. We also test for infectious diseases and a panel of genetic testing. It is very time-consuming because they also have to fill out a lot of paperwork, so they have to be committed to donate.
When all the paperwork is finalized and all the testing is approved, they can begin donating.
We also perform ongoing health checks while the donor is donating. On the website, under each donor, we have a document that is called ‘Summary of Records’ and here you can see all of the screening that we have done.
How does Cryos work with UK clinics?
“When we receive the order, we will contact the clinic and make sure that they are okay with the order and that the donor you selected is approved by the clinic. We have to send a lot of paperwork to the clinic for the clinic to review before we can send the order.
The way it works in the UK is that there is a limit of 10 families who can use the same donor, so in the order process you will be asked to buy a ‘Family Slot’. When you get the slot, you are guaranteed that you are one of the families who can get treatment with this donor. “
What are the options for single women, same-sex couple and sperm donation for older women?
“As a sperm bank, we want to help everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are a single woman if you are in a same-sex relationship or how old you are. We want to make sure that we help as many women who want to have a child as possible. We are not limiting in any way. But there are some countries where there are limitations, e.g. they have a maximum age, or they won’t treat single women or same-sex couples.
If you are in a country with limitations and you feel that you can’t get access to fertility treatment, give us a call and we will be happy to listen to your situation and find a way for you to get treatment because we believe that everyone should have access to treatment.”
Do I need to report to Cryos when I give birth?
“If you are located in a country where we are a quota system, for example in the UK, then when you purchase the quota it stays in your account and that quota you can convert to a pregnancy.
If you do not get pregnant and if you don’t have any straws or embryos at a clinic and you don’t want to continue treatment with the donor, you can request a refund for the quota reservation. The same applies if you want to switch donors. You can always give up that quota and get a quota for another donor.
It is important not to get a refund for the quota if you wish to continue treatment with the specific donor because then you will lose your “spot” on the list.
When you go to your account online you can see your quota reservation, then you can either convert it to a pregnancy or request the refund.”
CMV negative or CMV positive?
“The donors that are marked as CMV positive have had a CMV infection at some point but not at the time of donation. Especially in the UK, some guidelines suggest that if you have a status that is CMV negative, you should choose a donor who is also CMV negative. If your status is CMV positive, you can choose either one. It is a bit controversial as most countries don’t look at it that way, but in the UK they do and we have both types of donors.”