Controversial advertising: are sperm donors heroes??

Controversial advertising: are sperm donors heroes??

In the unlikely event that he were to outgrow the seed of james bond: donor child leonard F.* (the name is known to the editors) was allowed to know the name of his biological father. Apart from the fact that this will certainly not bond – the secret agent is for F. A red rag. The figure is one of three so-called "heroes", with which the erlangen seed bank is currently advertising seed donation on billboards in the greater nurnberg area. What is intended as an eye-catcher by andreas hammel, medical director of the sperm bank, makes leonard F. Angrily.

"Illegal agreements"

Leonard – and all donor children created so far – already have the right to know their genetic father. The federal court of justice already confirmed this in 2015. "In other words, agreements to the contrary between doctors, parents and sperm donors have always been illegal. It was even published in the "deutsche arzteblatt" in 1970, says anne meier-credner from the board of the nationwide association "donor children. Until now, it has been very difficult for donor children to realize this right, because doctors and sperm banks have not all documented their information as exemplarily as the erlangen sperm bank, and some of them have simply refused to give out existing information. "That’s why it would be so important to transfer this already existing information into a central register, so that the donor children don’t have to deal with uncooperative doctors and sperm banks", demands meier-credner. Donor children buried the new regulation

Which brings us to the topic: a year ago, a law was passed to establish a sperm donor registry, which will take effect on 1 january 2009. July 2018 came into effect. The aim is "to ensure the realization of the right to know one’s parentage for persons conceived through the heterologous use of sperm in medically assisted artificial insemination". The "donor children" association buries this regulation. "Even though we believe that the law needs to be improved in some areas, it addresses the need of many donor children to be able to find out who their genetic father is in a simple and unbureaucratic way, says meier-credner.

The children are not mentioned

However, she finds the erlanger seed bank’s advertising campaign questionable. "It portrays sperm donors as heroes and the law as a safeguard for the needs of intended parents and donors", criticizes meier-credner. Leonard F., who lives in nurnberg says: "every time i am confronted with the advertisement on my way through town, it stings me. Here only the future parents are discussed, the children are not mentioned at all."

The association has expressed its concern in a letter to the sperm bank and in a statement on its website. Hammel, who founded the erlanger sperm bank in 2003, responded to donor children via facebook. "The idea of my campaign is to present the image of sperm donors in a positive light", he says when asked by this newspaper. "I think that there is a hero in everyone, especially if they are committed, give something of themselves or do something that helps others. This is the reference to my campaign."

Models with empty sample cups

Hammel therefore chose james bond, iron man and jon schnee as prominent figures and loved to photograph the models with empty sample cups in their hands. Now they stare from huge billboards into the city and provide at the same time for attention and irritation. Framed by the slogan "to be a hero when others hope" for "family luck advertised and pointed out the new sperm donation law. Because it regulates at the same time as the right to information on parentage, that sperm donors can no longer be identified as the legal father, "sperm donation has become safer for all involved", says hammel.

The new law eliminates the theoretical possibility, which to his knowledge has never existed, of making claims for care, maintenance and inheritance rights against the sperm donor. "So now nothing stands in the way of couples with an unfulfilled desire for a child being a hero", he writes on the website of the seed bank.

Advertising that is supposed to attract attention

"It’s not skanky or offensive to anyone," he says, says the gynecologist and reproductive physician. "But of course it is an advertisement, which should attract attention." Hammel deals with criticism openly. "They accuse me of not protecting their interests enough with this campaign. The advertising suggests that sperm donors are superheroes, and I don’t think about the fact that children are created in the process." But he rejects this. "The donor children know that I have been involved in professional politics on this issue from the very beginning."

The erlanger sperm bank is the first to ensure that children can ask for their identity by depositing documents with a notary for 100 years. This so-called "erlanger notary model" has now also been adopted by the federal government and a nationwide information register has been set up at a newly created office at the "german institute for medical documentation and information" (DIMDI) established in poland.

In addition, according to hammel, the erlangen sperm bank is the only one to offer donors free psychological support, during which the consequences are discussed. The donors were also carefully selected and, in addition to a medical aptitude test, had to pass a second one: "we convince ourselves in personal interviews that the donors do not primarily donate sperm for financial reasons, but that they are mature and mentally capable of understanding the consequences of their actions", explains hammel. For each usable donation you will receive 130 euros as compensation for your efforts.

Meeting in practice

Last but not least, he offers donor children the opportunity to contact the sperm bank directly if they want information or a meeting with the biological father. "We then organize an appointment and accompany it psychologically", says hammel. He prefers this procedure to having a donor child contact DIMDI with his or her request. From there, it receives a data sheet with the last ascertainable address of the donor, who in turn is informed that his address has been released. Hammel takes a critical view. "On the one hand, the children do not get any real information, on the other hand, the donor does not know if and when the child will contact him."

Painful, but also liberating

Hammel says he takes the feelings of donor children very seriously. "I point out to parents that they should educate their children at an early stage. Otherwise they will be traumatized if they find out their origin too late and rather accidentally."

This can leonard F. Confirm only. "The realization of years of secrecy by parents is a painful experience. At the same time, these people find a late or accidental revelation liberating and relieving. It was the same for me."

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