Donor Conception

Is Donor Conception one of the Greatest Gifts?

Eloise Edington  |   13 Jul 2021


Through their generous gesture, egg and sperm donors often make a huge impact on families who are trying to conceive. However, there is currently more demand than supply for donor conception treatment, especially for egg donors. In light of this, Fertility Help Hub has asked The Centre for Reproductive and Genetic Health (CRGH) to explain to us why donors are so vital, in the hopes of inspiring more donors to help families conceive.

Read on to find out why CRGH wants to normalise the conversation around donor conception, as well as discuss who qualifies to be an egg / sperm donor, and how you could possibly become one.

Words by CRGH

Fertility treatment is a marvel of both science and medicine, but it’s also something profoundly more emotive. Thanks to continuous developments in the last 50 years, more patients than ever before now have the opportunity to start their own family. At The Centre for Reproductive and Genetic Health (CRGH), we’re constantly humbled to have the privilege of contributing to both the research and development of new techniques for the entire IVF community, as well as the individual, personal journeys that each of our patients go through en route to a family of their own. Seeing patients we’ve worked with over a period of months and sometimes years finally hold their own child to love and cherish transcends the clinical and becomes something much more meaningful.

An Underrated Fertility Treatment

Within fertility treatment as a whole, there’s a type of infertility treatment which is so special on so many levels that it deserves to be talked about and celebrated more. Donor conception is a treatment where donated eggs, sperm, or both are used to try to conceive. This type of treatment can help patients diagnosed with infertility create a family of their own. It can also help same-sex patients realise their dream of a family. What’s truly special about donor conception is that it relies on the selfless kindness of strangers: the donors. These donors go out of their way to provide the opportunity for a family to people who might not otherwise be able to conceive; the impact of that is genuinely hard to overstate.

We wanted to explain more about our donors, as well as our recipients. It’s our hope that by doing so we might inspire more donors to come forward and contribute to this amazing cause, while also normalising the conversation around donor conception.

The Donors – Who, Why and How?

CRGH has run a successful donation programme almost since we opened more than 30 years ago. Over that period, the demand for donated eggs and/or sperm has continuously increased and we work very hard to ensure our donation programme grows accordingly. That said, the demand globally, for donated eggs in particular, outstrips supply and we’re always aiming to redress that balance and ensure those who dream of a family are able to realise that dream as quickly as possible.

Our community of donors comes from all backgrounds, and choose to donate for different reasons. What unifies them is the desire to provide a life-changing gift to a stranger they’ll never meet. In many ways egg/sperm donation is similar to giving blood or becoming an organ donor; yet it seems even more profound. Thanks to these donors, a child is brought into the world who may go on one day to have a family of their own; generations made possible thanks to one simple act, and all the love and endless potential that comes with that.

Who Can Become a Donor?

There are guidelines in place for both egg and sperm donors to ensure that the donation process is safe, and that the donated eggs or sperm are of the right quality to create a healthy child. Sperm donors should be aged 18 – 45 and in good health, without any genetic conditions in the family. Egg donors should be aged 18 – 35, also in good health without any genetic or serious medical conditions. If you are using contraception such as an implant or the pill, it may not be possible to donate immediately. The best thing to do in this situation is speak with our dedicated donation team who can explain to you how you might go about donating.

Why Do People Donate?

The motivation for our donors is varied, but unified by the desire to help someone achieve their dreams. Some people decide they don’t want children of their own and realise there are people out there who need their help to achieve exactly that. Others know friends of family who have conceived thanks to help from a donor, have seen the impact that can have and decide to contribute themselves.

In the UK, the compensation provided for donors is strictly regulated and limited at £750 per donation cycle. That means that whatever the motivation might be, it’s rarely financial. Our donors go out of their way to do something life-changing for someone they’ll never meet; a truly heart-warming gift.

How Do You Donate?

If you’re interested in becoming either an egg or sperm donor, you should speak to our dedicated donation team at donation.team@crgh who will be able to talk you through the entire process.

For most sperm/egg donors, the process is very straightforward. You would start by speaking with one of our fertility specialists by video, who will discuss your medical and fertility history. You would also speak with one of our specialist counsellors who will cover the emotional considerations of becoming a donor. For most donors, the process takes about one month from initial chat to the donation itself. At CRGH fertility clinic there will be a donation nurse with you throughout the process to ensure everything is smooth and comfortable.

Related Article – Sperm Donation – How do Sperm Banks Select Donors?

The Recipients – A Life-Changing Gift

It’s difficult to overstate the impact which donor conception can have for the recipients. Understandably, not all recipients publicly discuss their experience; it’s a private and sensitive topic. For those of us who work as part of the donor conception process, it’s a real privilege to be able to see both sides of the story – the joy and happiness which a healthy child brings to patients who may not have otherwise been able to conceive is incredible, as is the gratitude they feel towards the unknown donor who made that child possible. In that respect donor conception is life-affirming and might make you consider the world differently moving forward.

Some recipients require donated eggs or sperm as a result of primary or secondary infertility. Others have undergone medical treatment or conditions which have made conceiving with their own eggs or sperm impossible. Whatever the reason for needing donated eggs or sperm, our recipients are united by a common theme; they receive a life changing gift from an unknown person, which they will be able to care for, nourish and love for the rest of their lives.

More than a marvel of science and medicine, donor conception is a marvel of compassion and humanity.

If you would like to learn more about becoming a donor, email our dedicated team at donation.team@crgh.co.uk or visit our website.

Hopefully, the light that CRGH fertility clinic has shed on donor conception treatment has either comforted you in your TTC journey or has inspired more donors to come forward and help families who are struggling to conceive.

If you would like to learn more about donor conception and the processes of finding or becoming a donor, download the Fertility Help Hub App, where we offer an extensive gallery of fertility articles, podcasts and generous discounts on fertility aids like supplements and gadgets.

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