There is a debate that has resurfaced this week over whether or not sperm donorship should be government regulated. In fact a recent report states that a single sperm donor may have fathered at least 150 children for example. These types of revelations also raise fears that children from the same donor could share disease causing genes that can spread through the general population.

In July of this year, ABC News reported 24 children of one donor were at risk for a potentially fatal hereditary heart defect. In August, the Daily Mail reported a donor with Asperger’s syndrome fathered at least 22 children, some of which are already showing signs of autism.

Here in the U.S., there’s no defined law, only recommended guidelines. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine recommends restricting conceptions to 25 births per 800,000-person population. Large clusters of these so-called “donor families” are cropping up on registry sites where parents search to see if their kid has donor half-siblings.

A donor who makes a non-anonymous sperm donation is termed a known donor, open identity or identity release donor. Non-anonymous sperm donors are, to a substantially higher degree, driven by altruistic motives for their donations.

In any case, some information about the donor may be released to the woman/couple at the time of treatment. A limited donor information at most includes height, weight, eye, skin and hair color. In Sweden, this is all the information a receiver gets. In the US, on the other hand, additional information may be given, such as a comprehensive biography and sound/video samples.

For most sperm recipients, anonymity of the donor is not of major importance at the obtainment or tryer-stage. The main reason for anonymity is that recipients think it would be easiest if the donor was completely out of the picture. However, some recipients regret not having chosen non-anonymous donor years later, for instance when the child desperately wants to know more about the donor anyway.

One in three donor conceived children wants information about their biological father.

There is a risk of bias in the information given by clinics or sperm banks regarding anonymity, making anonymous sperm donation seem more favorable than it may actually be, resulting from that anonymous sperm donations are easier for them to handle in the long term, because anonymity does not put the clinic or sperm bank responsible for safely storing donor information for a long period of time. In addition, a majority of donors are anonymous, causing a relative deficit in non-anonymous sperm supply.

In the United States, the trend of wanting to know the identity of donors has resulted in some sperm banks offering exclusively non-anonymous donors.

England’s Human Fertilisation Embryology Authority caps the number of kids from one sperm donor at 10. France and Sweden also have laws limiting sperm donation

Written by Sy Kraft