Donating sperm

Monday, July 14, 2008
Image: Getty

In these very different cases, the desire to have a baby was answered by using donor sperm to conceive.

The infertile couple
Sharon Campbell and her husband Shane had mixed feelings about using a donor. They're still not sure if the sperm used to create their son Lachlan, 15 months, was Shane's or the donor's.

"My husband had a vasectomy 16 years ago, so we knew it was very unlikely we'd be able to have kids, but we still wanted to try. We'd been going through IVF cycles with no success and after a while our doctor suggested trying a sperm donor," Sharon says.

"We wanted a baby so much but weren't sure that we wanted to use someone else's sperm. In the end, we agreed to do it as long as they didn't tell us if they used the donor sperm or Shane's. I'd like to think it was Shane's. We tried to find a donor who had similar characteristics to Shane and found there weren't many choices," she says.

"We found all that really clinical, but in the end I got pregnant with Lachlan on my eighth attempt. I know Shane still thinks about it a lot but then Lachlan will do something that's so him. There really isn't any doubt in our minds that we did the right thing."

The single woman
Marion Jones, 43, went to the Queensland Fertility Group five years ago after a girls night out with friends made her realise she was missing something in her life. "I told them I was trying to meet someone and I just felt like I was in a rush to have kids. I was already 38. One of my friends got out the phonebook and found me a number for a fertility clinic. I thought, it's now or never," Marion says.

"Over the next few weeks I had to have some counselling sessions and lots of medical checks and blood tests. Then I went to choose my donor. You don't get a huge choice, so I ended up choosing someone who shared my passion for music. But after a few tries with him I still wasn't pregnant, so I had to choose another donor. The second time around there was even less choice," she says.

"You have all these tests to check your hormone levels and see when you're ovulating, then you go for the insemination, which felt terribly clinical. There were a lot of months where it didn't work and that was all extremely traumatic," Marion explains.

"Then one month I had a really good feeling. Mum had died in 2000 and we'd been really close, so I decided to do a pregnancy test on her birthday. It was positive — it just felt so right. The fun part was telling people. I said to my colleagues: 'Well, I'm pregnant and I have absolutely no idea who the father is'. Then I owned up," she says.

"It took me a year from the day I went into the clinic to the day I got pregnant, but now my little girl Hannah is three and I have no regrets — having her was the best thing I ever did. She's such a lovely little girl and I'm so grateful. My life has changed completely."

The lesbian couple
For Sally Ryan, sperm donation was the best way of fulfilling her dream of having children with her partner Jennifer Mann. This is Sally's story.

"I always knew I wanted children, ever since I was a little girl. By the time I'd been with Jennifer for five years, we both just knew it was the right time. We had lots of offers from gay friends willing to donate their sperm, but in the end we found our donor on an Internet personals site. It worked and we had Caleb, who's now three," Sally says.

"We wanted to use the same donor to have another child but, sadly, we lost touch with him. Instead, we found a donor on another registry and that's how we had Lachlan — he's now 12 weeks old," she says.

"We still meet with Lachlan's donor every two weeks or so for coffee. We think it's important for him to know who his donor is."

All material is © Mother & Baby: Making Babies

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