Using a Known Donor

Using a Known Donor
A known donor is one personally selected by the intended parent(s). The donor may have been located through advertisement or on-line research. In this scenario, the donor is someone previously unknown to the intended parent, but through e-mails, calls and maybe an in-person meeting, the parties decide on a match. . A known donor may also be someone who has been previously known by the intended parent(s), such as a relative, friend or other acquaintance. 

Why consider using a known donor?
Locating one’s own donor bypasses the expense of retaining a commercial, or a fertility center based, recruitment program. In addition, many feel it is important to have a personal and direct connection with the future biological contributor to their family , and they enjoy the process of choosing the donor and really getting to know the person. Some intended parents also feel strongly that they should consider the potential wish of a future child to meet the donor. While an arrangement for future contact may also be made in an anonymous donor situation, the practical aspects are complicated: choosing a known donor may facilitate the process
Additionally, if the known donor is a friend or family member, it may provide a sense of security about the donor’s motivation and likelihood of completing the donation. And, an established relationship may contribute to a more general sense of comfort about the arrangement.

What to do if you choose to use a known donor?
Particularly in the case of known donors, and especially with family members, it is absolutely critical that all the generally-followed safeguards (legal, psychological and medical) are firmly in place. The parties’ familiarity with each other should not tempt the participants to skip any of the usual procedural steps.

Legal: As state laws widely vary throughout the country, the legalities in each jurisdiction need to be carefully considered when forming the known donor relationship. This is especially important for single recipients, same-sex couples, or unmarried opposite-sex couples, as most states do not determine how a known donor fits in these relationships. The parties should be independently represented, with each attorney representing and advocating for the respective rights of the client and protecting that client’s interests in the arrangement. The donation should not proceed without a written agreement that outlines those rights, determines the responsibilities of the parties, including payments, reimbursements, compliance with the medical protocol, future contact among the parties and whether the donor is agreeing to possible future contact by the child. Importantly, it includes clear documentation regarding parental rights as to that child, with concomitant waivers on the part of the donor, and is evidence of the intent of the parties. An attorney who is experienced in this area of the law is an essential part of the legal process.

Psychological: A donor should undergo a consultation with a mental health professional who is experienced in fertility issues and gamete donation in particular. This is often a requirement of the medical practice. It is also advisable for the intended parent(s) to speak with a qualified counselor.

Medical: A known donor will be required to undergo the same medical testing and screening as an anonymous donor. In the case of sperm donation, since it is possible for the donation to be completed without medical assistance, intended parent(s) should be aware that proceeding without medical supervision may expose them to transmissible disease, or result in genetic risks for the child, and is never advisable. (Also, some states’ laws require the medical component for the protections provided within a donor statute). It is important that donors be required to comply with all medical guidelines to protect everyone involved in the arrangement.