Perth men donate sperm to thousands through Facebook page
A group of men from Perth are donating their sperm for free to couples who can't afford IVF treatments and women who want to raise a child by themselves.
The network is allowing the donors to help strangers achieve their dreams of a family, but doctors have raised concerns the unregulated approach raises risks of infectious diseases and genetic abnormalities.
Women and couples find donors on a Facebook group called Sperm Donation Australia, a page donors say has helped welcome more than 3000 babies since Adam Hooper started it eight years ago.
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"I have created many friendships (since creating the page), we even have donor siblings meet-ups with the parents," Hooper said.
He has fathered more than 15 children since starting the Facebook page and says demand for sperm donation is going up.
Professional IVF treatments through traditional fertility clinics can cost up to $10,000 per cycle, making the free sperm donation movement more appealing to those on a budget.
WA legislation restricts donors to five donations worldwide, to avoid risks of consanguinity or accidentally being related to someone.
But it only applies to professionally run clinics, which doctors say are the safest option.
Former Australian Medical Association WA president Michael Gannon said there were risks involved in finding a donor through the internet.
"(In a clinic) there would be basic tests done for infectious diseases, there's also some level of screening for genetic abnormalities (which you don't get from a free donor)," he said.
"I don't think this is the perfect way for people to be conceived, but the risks are comparable to the risks of a one-night stand."
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Shayne Maynard, who has donated sperm to four women currently pregnant, told 9News the group has a way to mitigate that risk.
"Every time there's a new birth I post a new update to the register so everybody knows who's who," the 35-year-old said.
"There are no chances of any accidental incest."
City Fertility national medical director Professor Roger Hart said the professional process also included rigorous mandatory counselling.
Advocates argue the Facebook group provides a more personal and transparent way of finding a donor.
"They get a good idea of our demeanour, of our personality, they get to see our physical traits as a donor, in a clinic you wouldn't get to see such things," Maynard said.
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The women and donors have an open discussion about visitation rights and if they want the donor to stay anonymous in the child's life.
"The same-sex couples obviously miss the male element, that's where I like to step in and give a hand where I can," said Maynard, whose partner is pregnant with his second child at the same time as four other women.