Page 2008 - Week 06 - Thursday, 9 June 2022

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my parents) for an anonymous sperm donation. Apparently (confidentiality/privacy) forms were signed but no records remain with any party.

My parents’ psychological situation is important here in regard to medical duty of care. Four years prior to my birth, my 13-year-old brother drowned, a traumatic experience and a massive loss for the whole family.

After a failed vasectomy reversal, my father could not be the biological father. I don’t know how my mother was counselled on making this decision on what the best format would be going forward. It’s important to recognise the impact of her situation on the decisions she made; her trauma and loss, her age and the time pressures that presented, and how a lack of regulation and appropriate child-centred counselling played into her decision-making. She chose donor anonymity, received no information about the donor or my future rights …

I wasn’t curious about sperm donor information until I started thinking about having my own children, and how my lack of DNA knowledge may affect them …

So, in my mid-20s I contacted the Doctor by letter asking what my rights were and what processes were in place. I was informed over the phone that as it was a private agreement no details would have been taken, and even if there were records they would have been destroyed after seven years (so I would have had to make that decision by the age of 6 years old).

I was offered a meeting with the doctor at-cost to be told … this information, I was shocked I would be charged hundreds of dollars for 10 minutes, and decided the cost and risk of having my time wasted meant I could not accept that proposal.

This forced me to turn to DNA testing which wasn’t my preferred method as I actually just wanted medical information and a knowledge of how many half-siblings, cousins etc I would have and what last names to be wary of.

Ultimately, I had to pay a genetic genealogist to make sense of my DNA, and now I have identified the sibling group the donor came from and made initial contact with the family …

I also consulted a lawyer to understand my rights and was shocked … to learn there was nothing in the law that allowed for any support for me, the donor, my parents or the donor’s family. I was on my own. There was no requirement for any basic information such as number of siblings, cultural and medical history etc to be kept on file for a decent enough period of time in the ACT.

The costs of pursuing information with the doctor and lawyers was prohibitive and unlikely to deliver me anything except a painful experience. Of all the difficulties being donor conceived creates, the treatment by the medical system has been the worst.

After making contact with the family, I learnt all the vague statements the doctor had supplied about my donor’s situation were unlikely to be true. I uncovered important medical and cultural information that my parents and I should have been able to access.

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