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You hear a lot about anonymous donors and Identity (ID) donors, but less so of Directed Donors. A Directed Donor or “DD” is someone known to, but not sexually intimate with the recipient. While most cryobanks offer anonymous and ID donor sperm, not all sperm banks facilitate the process of DD donation.
FDA Protection for the Recipient
The process may appear complicated to the DD and his recipient, but the sperm banks are well- versed in the FDA regulations that require DDs to be screened like anonymous or ID donors. This means that each DD must undergo the same rigorous protocol for donor screening, which includes a three-generation medical and genetic history questionnaire, a physical exam, and all of the FDA required testing.
Many clients ask why this process is so complicated. The short answer is that the FDA and the sperm banks are following the necessary steps to protect the recipient from any risk of transmissible disease. The long answer is that prior to the mid-1980s, sperm donation was often done with fresh samples. The spread and danger of HIV led to the requirement of storing samples in “quarantine” for a period of 180 days before the specimens could be used. This period of time allowed for follow up testing of the donors to ensure that that they were not positive for any sexually transmitted diseases.
Some STDs, such as HIV can take up to six months to show up as positive on some tests. With the advent of newer, more sensitive testing, HIV and other STDs can be detected earlier; but some regulations still advise or require this quarantine period. For anonymous and ID donors this quarantine period is absolutely required. For DDs, the regulations are more lenient, and with an exceptional or special circumstances release, you can have a physician sign off on waving the six-month waiting period.
Every Situation Is Unique
I have worked with many DDs and reviewed many DD files. Each situation is unique. I have worked with a man who donated for his brother who was found to be infertile. I have worked with a lesbian couple who conceived with their best friend’s sperm. I have worked with a couple who needed to use an egg donor and gestational carrier. In each case, the process may have been arduous but the end result of creating a healthy family was worth it. Using a directed donor is often an excellent option for so many people that are touched by medical or social fertility issues.
It is also important to realize that using a DD is more complicated legally than using an anonymous or ID donor. When working with a DD, it is recommended that the recipient and donor work with a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer to draw up contracts that clarify the responsibility or lack thereof for each person involved.
It is wonderful that there are so many options available to build families.