Page URL: https://www.progress.org.uk/witmt2henry

I wanted to leave a legacy after my partner and I realised we couldn't conceive: Henry's story

This case study forms part of the Progress Educational Trust (PET) project 'When It Takes More Than Two', supported by the Wellcome Trust.
It incorporates links to terms in an accompanying Glossary.

My partner and I had reached the stage in our relationship where we wanted to try for a baby. We'd been together for quite a long time - for eight-and-a-half years - and we'd come to that point. However, it turned out that my partner had hormone problems that would prevent her from conceiving.
Obviously, that was very sad for us. It hit us quite hard; we just weren't sure what to do. I did want to have children, and I had to ask myself: 'Do I want to be with someone who can't conceive?' Quite a searching question, really.
But after thinking hard about those sorts of questions, I came to the realisation that, yes, the only person I would want to have a child with would be my partner. I also came to the realisation that I wanted to be able to leave some sort of legacy - a genetic legacy, I suppose. I also wanted to be able to give that chance to someone else. I'll be honest, that wasn't my top reason for donating, but once my couple had been affected by infertility it made me think about helping others in a similar situation.
So, giving other people that chance was important, but the driver was being able to leave a legacy. Of course, I understood that I would maybe not get to meet the child, but just the hope that my legacy would come into being was enough for me. And my partner was very supportive. She knew I'd thought it through and said I should go for it.
I don't know how I found out about the sperm bank I ended up donating with. It might have been a Google search or an advert or something, but I'm really glad I went with them. The staff were great - really lovely people, very understanding and helpful.
They offered a counselling session so that I would be absolutely sure that I was aware of what my decision would mean, and that I'd fully considered all that before making the decision to donate. That session didn't really change my thinking, though - I always knew this was right for me.
I was paid expenses, of course, but all that was far from my mind. I wasn't doing this for money - it didn't even factor in the decision-making process.
Anyway, I went in to provide a sample for testing. The first time, they actually found that my sperm count wasn't quite high enough for donation. I was absolutely devastated. But at that time, I was under a lot of stress with a number of things - I think that may have contributed. I went back, and the second time they said the sperm count was fine.
It was the greatest feeling when I was given that news. It was such a relief. And now, when I think about having donated, it gives me a warm feeling inside.
As an identifiable donor, I am excited about the prospect that I may one day get to meet any biological children that may result. All the same, I know that that may not happen, and I'm not pinning my hopes on it. It's just the kind of thing that'd be great if it did happen. It's not that I would want to be part of that person's life growing up, it's more that later on it'd be good to just to see that person in the flesh.
Donating gave me an outlet for a very basic human desire - the desire to leave some kind of biological legacy. If I hadn't have done it, I probably would feel not quite 'complete' in some way. I'm still very saddened by the fact that my partner and I won't be able to raise our own biological children - that is still a sad thing - but at least I found this outlet.
For anyone in a similar situation considering donating sperm, I can only say that I've found it a very worthwhile and satisfying thing to do. And if I could say something to a woman who may end up using my donation, it would be that I'm extremely happy and proud that I was able to give you the opportunity to have a child. It means a lot to me.