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21 years of the Progress Educational Trust (PET), informing debate on assisted conception and genetics

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Events

Receiving: The Recipient Parent Perspective

Progress Educational Trust
John Zachary Young Lecture Theatre, Ground Floor, Anatomy Building, Bloomsbury Campus, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT
24 January 2013
Sue Moore, Olivia Montuschi and Juliet Tizzard speaking at the Progress Educational Trust event 'NICE Try...But Is Anyone Listening?' (photograph by Ben Jones)
Left to right: Sue Moore, Olivia Montuschi, (at lectern) Juliet Tizzard
Photograph by Ben Jones
See other photographs of this event below

This public event was organised by the Progress Educational Trust (PET) at University College London, and was supported by the Wellcome Trust. The event formed part of the PET project 'When It Takes More Than Two' (which launched with the preceding event 'Giving: The Gamete Donor Perspective' and continued with the event 'Being: The Donor-Conceived Perspective').
A podcast in which James Brooks interviews members of the speaker panel about the themes of the event can be listened to using the player below, or alternatively can be downloaded by clicking here (.mp3 9.85MB).
A synopsis of the event proceedings (by Cait McDonagh) can be found on PET's BioNews publication here.
The event focused on the perspective of the person who conceives with donated sperm or eggs, and saw a panel of experts debate questions including the following.
What traits do gamete recipients prefer in a donor, and what are the scientific facts about the heritability of such traits? Does preferring a tall donor (height is a widely preferred donor characteristic) or deprecating a red-haired donor (the world's largest sperm bank closed its doors to red-haired sperm donors in 2011 due to a reported lack of demand) actually give recipients any assurance as to the height and hair colour of their children?
What of more complex characteristics, such as intelligence and personality? The extent (if any) to which such qualities are heritable is a highly contentious, and yet these same qualities frequently form the basis on which donors are marketed. Donor profiles provided by clinics also include such details as pierced ears, choice of car and favourite pet - can a choice of donor made on such grounds be meaningful, and if so how?
To what extent is it necessary or desirable to seek a 'matching' donor, whose looks resemble those of the recipient couple (at a generic level such as skin colour)? Is this important to avoid inviting questions about a child's provenance, or should we aspire to put such thinking behind us? Are such questions rendered moot by the limited availability of sperm and egg donors in the UK, which can make matching difficult or impossible?
Following donor conception, what are the challenges (if any) involved in raising donor-conceived children? Is it always incumbent upon parents to inform their children of the fact that they are donor conceived, in line with official support for the principle of openness? In what circumstances might parents inform family, friends, colleagues or teachers of the fact that their children are donor-conceived? And what if this is disclosed inadvertently?
What are the specific challenges (if any) faced by non-traditional families, which involve same-sex couples and/or co-parenting arrangements, when it comes to donor conception? What is the impact on such families of being less readily accommodated by established social conventions and institutions? And is this changing?

Speakers:
Dr Nicky Hudson
Senior Research Fellow and Leader of the Reproduction Research Group at De Montfort University
Olivia Montuschi
Cofounder and Practice Consultant at the Donor Conception Network
Sue Moore
Senior Fertility Counsellor at Guy's Hospital's Assisted Conception Unit
Professor Marcus Pembrey
Founding Chair of Trustees at PET, and Emeritus Professor of Paediatric Genetics at University College London's Institute of Child Health
Caroline Spencer
Co-Active Coach and Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist at Successfully Single

Chair:
Juliet Tizzard
Head of Policy and Communications at the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and former Director of PET

Case studies:
My children don't have to be a reflection of me: Julia's story
We wanted our children to know their donors: Kate's story

Partners and supporters:
Wellcome Trust

Juliet Tizzard speaking at the Progress Educational Trust event 'NICE Try...But Is Anyone Listening?' (photograph by Ben Jones)
At lectern: Juliet Tizzard
Photograph by Ben Jones

Dr Nicky Hudson speaking at the Progress Educational Trust event 'NICE Try...But Is Anyone Listening?' (photograph by Ben Jones)
Dr Nicky Hudson
Photograph by Ben Jones

Olivia Montuschi speaking at the Progress Educational Trust event 'NICE Try...But Is Anyone Listening?' (photograph by Ben Jones)
Olivia Montuschi
Photograph by Ben Jones

Sue Moore speaking at the Progress Educational Trust event 'NICE Try...But Is Anyone Listening?' (photograph by Ben Jones)
At lectern: Sue Moore
Photograph by Ben Jones

Professor Marcus Pembrey speaking at the Progress Educational Trust event 'NICE Try...But Is Anyone Listening?' (photograph by Ben Jones)
Professor Marcus Pembrey
Photograph by Ben Jones

Professor Marcus Pembrey speaking at the Progress Educational Trust event 'NICE Try...But Is Anyone Listening?' (photograph by Ben Jones)
At lectern: Professor Marcus Pembrey
Photograph by Ben Jones

Caroline Spencer speaking at the Progress Educational Trust event 'NICE Try...But Is Anyone Listening?' (photograph by Ben Jones)
Caroline Spencer
Photograph by Ben Jones

Caroline Spencer speaking at the Progress Educational Trust event 'NICE Try...But Is Anyone Listening?' (photograph by Ben Jones)
Caroline Spencer
Photograph by Ben Jones

Olivia Montuschi and Juliet Tizzard speaking at the Progress Educational Trust event 'NICE Try...But Is Anyone Listening?' (photograph by Ben Jones)
Left to right: (in background) Olivia Montuschi, (in foreground) Juliet Tizzard
Photograph by Ben Jones

Sue Moore, Olivia Montuschi and Juliet Tizzard speaking at the Progress Educational Trust event 'NICE Try...But Is Anyone Listening?' (photograph by Ben Jones)
Left to right: Sue Moore, Olivia Montuschi, Juliet Tizzard
Photograph by Ben Jones

Professor Marcus Pembrey and Dr Nicky Hudson speaking at the Progress Educational Trust event 'NICE Try...But Is Anyone Listening?' (photograph by Ben Jones)
Left to right: Professor Marcus Pembrey, Dr Nicky Hudson
Photograph by Ben Jones

Sue Moore, Olivia Montuschi and Juliet Tizzard speaking at the Progress Educational Trust event 'NICE Try...But Is Anyone Listening?' (photograph by Ben Jones)
Left to right: (in background) Sue Moore, Olivia Montuschi, (in foreground) Juliet Tizzard
Photograph by Ben Jones

Juliet Tizzard speaking at the Progress Educational Trust event 'NICE Try...But Is Anyone Listening?' (photograph by Ben Jones)
Juliet Tizzard
Photograph by Ben Jones

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