We can be jealous of the German public healthcare system, probably one of the best in Europe – high quality services available with few restrictions and nowaiting lists. But in the field of donor conception Germans look with envy at the legal framework we have, as I learned at a conference in November organised jointly by the forward-thinking Dr Andreas Hammel of the SpermBank of Erlangen (a town near Nuremberg) and Petra Thorn, a counsellor who specialises in supporting donor families. This event also provided the first public outing for a newly formed parent support group DI-Netz (www.di-netz.de) – a sister organisation for DCN.
Over 100 people attended the two day conference, including clinicians, counsellors, lawyers, parents and intending parents, donors, and donor conceived people. I was privileged to make a
presentation covering our legal framework, the work of the HFEA and of our Network.
DI-Netz has made great strides in the nine months since it was launched. They now have over 60 members, a great website, leaflets, agreed campaign policies and a range of publications for sale. There is a real sense of enthusiasm and achievement. One of the first publications under their own imprint is a translation of Olivia’s Telling and Talking 0-7; I was proudly presented with copies wrapped in a pink ribbon to bring home for her. There is great uncertainty about the legal rights and obligations of parents, sperm donors and donor conceived people; there are no provisions conferring legal parenthood on recipient parents. There is no central register, records are simply held by the clinic. Apart from all that, egg donation is banned. The offices of
a counsellor and of a clinic suspected of referring patients to clinics abroad for egg donation treatment have been raided by the police, who then interviewed patients.
So lots for the great DI-Netz team to campaign about, as they work to develop their organisation. Why not give them some friendly congratulations and encouragement by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org! I’m sure they’d appreciate it.
Walter Merricks, DI dad, co-founder and
Chair of DC Network