The decision to use donor eggs or sperm can be significant and emotional for couples and individuals struggling with infertility. However, donor-assisted conception has become more common, offering hope to those who cannot conceive using their own eggs or sperm.
Here, we will explore the process of purchasing donor eggs and sperm in Australia and the legal and ethical considerations involved.
Finding a Donor
There are several ways to find a suitable donor for eggs or sperm. These include:
- Fertility clinics: Many fertility clinics have donor programs where they recruit, screen, and manage donors. These clinics can match recipients with suitable donors based on various characteristics and preferences.
- Donor agencies: Some individuals choose to use a donor agency to find a suitable donor. These agencies typically have a database of donors who have undergone screening for medical and genetic conditions.
- Known donors: Some people opt to use a known donor, such as a friend or family member.
Donors in Australia must undergo a comprehensive screening process to ensure they are medically and genetically suitable to donate eggs or sperm. This process typically includes the following:
- A thorough medical history and physical examination
- Blood tests to screen for infectious diseases, such as HIV, hepatitis B and C, and syphilis
- Genetic testing to identify any potential genetic disorders that could be passed on to a child
- Psychological assessment to ensure the donor is emotionally prepared for the process and understands the implications of their donation
Once a donor has been screened and deemed suitable, you can review their profile and decide whether you would like to proceed with that particular donor.
Donor Selection Process
One specific quirk of Australia’s donor egg and sperm ‘market’ is the lack of a national donor register. Moreover, the country has no formally recognised donor banks. Therefore, connecting with a reputable international bank is the most viable avenue left to you.
In order to provide you with the access you need, numerous banks sign service-level agreements (SLAs) and contracts with specific local Australian clinics. However, please note that while this option avails you of quality service from trusted sources, it also presents numerous drawbacks that can prolong the process. Therefore, it may be best to ensure your clinic of choice has a contract or SLA in place beforehand.
The donor selection process is as follows:
- Reserve an appointment with a specialist- this appointment allows you to ensure compatibility between you and the specialist. It is also a chance to verify that the doctor’s services match your needs.
- Meet with a donor coordinator – the donor coordinator (DC) cares for your tissue upon selection. They also streamline the process.
- Browse through various banks – this process entails searching through the options available through your chosen clinic’s contracts. It is best to select 2 or 3 donor options in case of donor non-availability or unsuitability.
- Submit your preferences to the DC – they will ensure your selections meet Australian fertility requirements.
- Undergo a psychological evaluation – a licensed practitioner will evaluate your psychological suitability to go through this process based on Australian guidelines.
- Once you have met all the medical and psychological requirements, you can purchase your preferred donor eggs or sperm.
The legal framework surrounding donor-assisted conception varies between states and territories. However, some general principles apply across the country:
- Donor anonymity: Donor-conceived individuals can access identifying information about their donor once they reach 18.
- Parental rights and responsibilities: It is best to clearly understand Australian Law regarding parental rights and obligations in cases of egg and sperm donation. A lawyer is the best resource in this instance.
By understanding the process and considering the factors outlined above, as a prospective parent, you can make informed decisions about whether donor-assisted conception is the right choice. Most importantly, do not hesitate to consult your physician or specialist if you have any questions.