What is a Directed Donor?
A directed donor is a sperm donor who stores samples for a designated recipient who is not a spouse or partner. This is not to be confused with a known donor, which is a directed donor whose recipient has chosen to waive the typical six-month quarantine of the donor’s sperm samples.
At the Phoenix Sperm Bank, we encourage recipients to be part of the directed donor screening process from the beginning in order to ensure clear communication and avoid misunderstandings. Local recipients are welcome to come to the initial screening process to learn about the process. If the recipient lives in another state, she should participate in phone consultations with our clinic. The recipient and donor must make joint decisions about the donor’s screening process, including how many visits he should make, and whether semen samples to be used for intrauterine insemination are to be washed prior to storage.
Instructions for Directed Donors
Prior to storing sperm, all directed donors should schedule a semen analysis and test thaw appointment with the Phoenix Sperm Bank. At this appointment, the donor will provide a sperm sample for testing only. It will not be used for insemination. A complete analysis will then be performed in our clinic. This analysis includes freezing the sample and then thawing it a day later to determine how well it survives (typically 50% to 80% of sperm die during the freezing process).
Screening Requirements for Donors
To reduce the risk of spreading transmissible infections through the insemination process, sperm bank regulations require strict screening of all donors who store samples. Our clinic also requires donors to undergo testing for sexually transmissible infections through our own lab, as well as to submit blood, urine, and semen samples at their first visit. We also require directed donors to complete the following: questionnaires regarding personal and family medical history; a color vision test; a medical examination that includes a genital exam; urinalysis; genetic screening for Cystic Fibrosis and Karyotype; and blood testing to determine blood type, Rh factor, STD screening, and CBC. A six month quarantine of all semen samples is strongly recommended, as is a repeated blood test prior to releasing the donor samples.
How Many Visits Should a Sperm Donor Make?
Simply put, the more the better. Because the greater the number of samples given, the greater the chance of conception. On average, a single ejaculate yields between two and four vials of semen, if we assume vials to be one mL (cc) if ICI and .5 mL if IUI. Most women use a little more than two vials per insemination attempt, so a post thaw sperm count of 20 million sperm per cc increases the chances of conception.
Why is a Six Month Quarantine of Donor Sperm Samples Recommended?
A six month quarantine of semen samples, plus a repeat blood testing of the donor, are recommend by the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Association of Tissue Banks, and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. The Phoenix Sperm Bank also recommends this. The quarantine is intended to span the time period between when a person is infected with HIV and the time they develop HIV specific antibodies that can show up in a blood test. Waiting six months gives recipients greater confidence that the samples are free from HIV and other infections. The Phoenix Sperm Bank strongly advises all recipients to consult a medical professional should they elect to waive the quarantine period. Further, some clinics refuse to work with samples that have not been quarantined. Should the recipient waive the quarantine period, her donor will be designated a “known donor.” She must also sign a waiver declaring that she is aware of the risks of using semen samples that have not been quarantined.
Timeline for Release of Donor Samples
The Phoenix Sperm Bank will release a directed donor’s semen samples only after we receive the results of his six-month blood test, and this blood test must be done six months after the last semen sample is given. To expedite the process, we suggest grouping storage visits within the shortest possible time period so we can release all samples at once. This also lets the donor and recipient avoid the cost of extra blood draws. If storage visits extend more than three months, the directed donor must repeat the tests for sexually transmissible infections. A known donor’s samples are releasable immediately after the initial screening is complete, which is usually after about a month. If storage visits extend more than three months, the directed donor must repeat the tests for sexually transmissible infections.
Once samples are releasable, the recipient should call for their retrieval. At that time both the recipient and a medical professional must sign a release/waiver form. Donors will also sign a HIPAA form to release medical records collected by our clinic. Recipients can either pick up samples at our lab or have the samples shipped.
The Phoenix Sperm Banks recommends that recipients using directed donors consult with a lawyer and consider creating a written donor-recipient contract. The National Center for Lesbian Rights (1.800.528.6257) is a useful resource for this.