Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Jean Hailes Researchers investigate the experiences of anonymous gamete donors about contact with donor offspring

Dr Maggie Kirkman and a team of researchers from the SPHPM’s Jean Hailes Research Unit, have investigated the expectations and experiences of anonymous gamete donors about contact with their donor offspring, the findings of which have been published in Human Reproduction (Vol.0, No.0 pp. 1 – 8, 2014).

Prior to 1998, gamete donors in Victoria were allowed to remain anonymous. After 1988, they could consent to the release of identifying information.

In Victoria a recommendation was recently made to introduce mandatory identiļ¬cation of donors on request from their donor offspring, with retrospective effect.  

Pre-1998 donors were invited to be interviewed about their views, experiences and expectations. This research was unusual in achieving participation by 36 sperm donors and 6 egg donors who would not normally identify themselves to researchers or government inquiries. 
Qualitative thematic analysis revealed that most donors did not characterize themselves as parents of their donor offspring, however, rather than consistently wanting to remain distant from their donor offspring, donors’ expectations and experiences of contact with donor offspring ranged from none to a close personal relationship.

Anonymous donors’ needs and desires are not homogeneous; policy and practice should be sensitive and responsive to a wide range of circumstances and preferences. Decisions made to restrict or facilitate contact or the exchange of information have ramiļ¬cations for donors as well as for donor-conceived people.

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