After a fortnight of Indian Summer weather, the warmth and calm have disappeared. This has been replaced with a cloudy sky, some rain and a real drop in temperature. However, there is compensation in the vibrant colours of autumn. In our own garden the mountain ash are particularly beautiful with their leaves on the turn and colourful red berries.
Autumn is a timely reminder of the fact that entering the bubble is drawing nearer. With possibly only three months to go before I take on a new DNA and blood group, I am still very concerned about the old ones. I have been reading some pretty horrifying stories about egg/sperm donors who become seriously ill and who have a dilemma about notifying not only the egg/sperm banks about destroying their donations so that future possible offspring are not affected, but also about notifying those offspring that now exist through their help. They shouldn’t have to feel that their anonymity would be violated.
In the past, some clinics were less scrupulous than others about researching donors’ medical histories but even where they were scrupulous, many slow-onset diseases may have affected donors’ own parents as they reached late middle age and may not have been known about at the time when the donor’s details were recorded.
What does this mean for donor offspring? Many who were told early in life, but who don’t qualify to know their background under the new UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, do not know their medical backgrounds and so must have huge doubts about their own futures and having children. This is hideously unfair. For those of us coming to this knowledge of our conception later in life, we have possibly already had children.
If, like me, they have reached middle age only to be struck down with illnesses/diseases which are not found in the family they thought they were part of, they have had no opportunity to prepare, to alter lifestyles or to get regular check-ups. We also pass on to our children a heavy burden of doubt about what is an environmental hazard as opposed to a genetic heritage. Anonymity of donors could still be maintained if a third party were to take charge of examining and holding records which could be available to donor offspring. This probably won’t help people in my age group where records have been wantonly destroyed without any regard for the offspring created. Maybe it could stop records being destroyed in the future and help just some of the people over the age of 18 who are not helped by the new law.
I’d like to think that part of my journey could help.