I’ve always wanted to be a sperm donor.
November 9, 2017 7:00 AM   Subscribe

My genetic traits seem just what the doctor ordered (no family history of cancer or mental illness, academically successful/high-IQ, good cheekbones, etc etc) with one glaring exception - I carry recessive Sickle Cell Anaemia. This means that I'm ineligible for sperm donation in the UK through the NHS system, which is heartbreaking, as that’s always been something I wanted to do.

Do I have any options here? I’d be willing to do almost anything to make this work - travel, assist with financial support for any offspring, etc etc. At the same time, I naturally wouldn’t be comfortable with any system that potentially exposed other carriers of the gene, so I’m not looking for a shady, unregulated market.

Being rejected for this reason stands alone as the primary regret in my life, so I'd be unspeakably grateful for any help towards making it happen.
posted by piato to Human Relations (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I respectfully invite you to consider giving up on this particular dream as you have now been given new information that necessitates moral evaluation of your position. You carry a trait for a disease that often causes long-term pain, among others. It might be worth bearing a "primary regret" in your life so that you cause no harm.

It would help to explain what your motivations are because then people might suggest alternative options. I hail from a country with an excellent screening program for a widespread hereditary blood disease and one of my parents carries the trait. If both of them carried the trait, there would be serious repercussions for their children. This is why you're ineligible for sperm donation through the NHS. This is also why this is information you must divulge to anyone who might have a child with you.
posted by mkdirusername at 7:27 AM on November 9 [61 favorites]


I'm so sorry, but I think this one of those things you need to just accept and be grateful that you have the information. Science has given you the heads up that passing on your genes is potentially a very harmful thing to do. As you yourself see, even the recessive status is enough to seriously disrupt a life; and of course the disease itself is a horror. There are lots of other ways to feel connected to children, to the next generation, to have a legacy. Therapy maybe, to explore how to refocus your goals?
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:31 AM on November 9 [10 favorites]


Consider the fact that "not being a sperm donor" is a much better primary regret in life than "unnecessarily passing on a harmful and incurable medical condition to an innocent child".
posted by Gray Skies at 7:40 AM on November 9 [55 favorites]


I was diagnosed with a serious hereditary illness at 30, when lots of people start thinking seriously about starting a family, and I decided that it was better not to take the risk of condemning potential children to a life of medical hardship and uncertainty.

For me, the best way to demonstrate my love for my children was not to have children at all. Thinking of it this way brings me a lot of peace.

I agree that it's a good idea to refocus. While I won't have a legacy in the form of children, there are lots of ways to be an impactful and positive force in the world.
posted by mochapickle at 8:19 AM on November 9 [12 favorites]


Do you not understand the weight of infertility that many of the couples you want to donate to have already gone through? The grief of multiple miscarriages and years of trying? That these people do not care about strong cheekbones? They just want their best chance at a healthy, live child.

You are not that chance. Let this go. Your grief over this can be borne; it pales in comparison to the grief of infertility or seeing your one, prized, long-awaited and hard-won child suffer pain.

They have already accepted that their bodies cannot perform this feat safely. You can too.
posted by sadmadglad at 8:21 AM on November 9 [38 favorites]


People with your genetic traits might be the ones who would seek out a sperm donor to avoid this type of situation. That could be their primary regret as well.

Money spent here could go towards research as a whole into sickle cell.
posted by RainyJay at 8:35 AM on November 9 [8 favorites]


This restriction is not help by some other sperm donor sites so if you are willing to travel you could further consider that option.

Xytex *****While we do accept donors who are found to be carriers of genetic conditions, to purchase sperm of a donor known to carry a genetic condition, a client must provide proof that she does not carry the condition and has received genetic counseling. If a female is a known carrier of a specific genetic condition, we will provide a copy of the donor’s test reports to the physician and genetic counselor.
posted by beaning at 10:29 AM on November 9 [3 favorites]


Speaking respectfully, how can this be a "primary regret" at all? Regret what? You did not choose to have this disease. You did not bring it upon yourself. So it was never something you had control over, so feeling regret about it makes no sense.

That said, were I in your shoes, I would feel regret at passing on a gene like this to a child who may have to suffer with it for all their life. Because that is a choice I would have control over.

There are other ways to make a mark, that you are quite capable of doing. I would focus on those, rather than feeling "regret" over something you have no power over and, as things stand in the medical field, cannot now be helped.
posted by Crystal Fox at 10:30 AM on November 9 [4 favorites]


I think you should do more research on Sickle Cell and understand more about the disease and how it affects people. Maybe reach out to an organization and get some idea on what it may be like to actually live with it. It may give you some perspective.

For the record, a family friend died from the disease in her 30s. It’s sad.
posted by girlmightlive at 10:36 AM on November 9 [5 favorites]


A fair number of people I know who have required sperm donors to have children have worked entirely outside of the medical system to make that happen, with friends or family. If friends in your social circle are aware of your interest, it might happen, but please make your genetic history very clear.
posted by tchemgrrl at 11:23 AM on November 9


If your dream is to donate sperm and hope someone will use it, I agree with the others here that you should probably let that dream go, not least because I think the odds are against any recipient choosing sperm that might have a genetic anomaly.

But if your dream is that someday you might enable someone to have a child with your sperm, that might be possible - PGD can pretty much eliminate the risk of passing on sickle cell anemia. So if you know someone who is looking to conceive with donor sperm, that's a conversation you could have. But you would lose the anonymity (and possibly the lack of future responsibility) that donating often gives you.
posted by Mchelly at 11:31 AM on November 9 [2 favorites]


Dude, I don't mean this to be an especially harsh criticism or anything, but it's not like you're a bad-looking guy, but you aren't good-looking enough for it to be worth this. Your genes are not that valuable. You are not the future savior of the species and this is probably not your only genetic flaw, even if it is the most obvious. If you don't actually feel strongly enough about reproducing to be willing to invest the slightest bit of labor or economic support to that offspring, though, how much value do even you really think this has? If the world needs bits of you in its next generation, why does it have to be in the way that involves the least involvement of the brain and body you're so proud of?

This doesn't sound like a thing you genuinely value; it sounds like a thing you have a particular fixation on that would be a good thing to talk over a bit with a trained professional, given some time to process and let go of. I spent a lot of years myself wanting stuff out of my life that I was weirdly attached to even though those things were not actually compatible with everything else I wanted from my life; it takes some time to work through but it's way better than trying to get everything else to rearrange to accommodate you. Kids don't fit in my life, either, so I'm not saying they should, but I am saying that it doesn't make sense to feel this keenly that those kids should exist but not enough to actually do the work, if it's really your greatest regret. Maybe it's your greatest regret because you haven't yet taken enough risks with your life to actually have come up with anything that would make this look incidental?
posted by Sequence at 3:17 PM on November 9 [31 favorites]


Learning to gracefully live with regret is a hallmark of maturity. Welcome aboard.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:13 PM on November 9 [3 favorites]


Dude. I guarantee you that no one will want your sperm once they learn you are a carrier for sickle cell anemia. No woman in the world is thinking "I must have a child with good cheek bones, even if it means they are a carrier for a disease that can cause horrible suffering!" There are many more men with better genes who are donating sperm, so you have nothing to regret — future generations will be healthy without your contribution.
posted by a strong female character at 6:43 PM on November 9 [7 favorites]


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