Earlier in the year, we met Heather Brooks, a Registered Nurse and amazing woman who began working in the Reproductive Medicine field in 1994 after her own difficult fertility journey. She is the proud mother of a son conceived through IVF and understands first-hand the emotional and physical rollercoaster associated
Her own experience drives her enthusiasm and compassion for helping men and women fulfill their dreams of parenthood. It has allowed her and her highly trained team at the Outreach Health Group, whose service provides donor semen to fertility patients in Ontario and across Canada, to bring a unique perspective to their clients.
When we found out that that Heather and the team at Xytex Cryo (the international sperm bank leader, or which the Outreach Health Group is the Exclusive Canadian Distributor) were going to be at the ASRM in Denver, we just had to meet up with them and learn more about the incredible service they provide.
Can you tell us about the Outreach Health Centre?
HB: “I have been the leader at Outreach Health Group for the past 20 years. We are the exclusive Canadian distributor for Xytex Cryo International. Since 1975, Xytex has helped men and women fulfill their dream of growing their families using donor semen.
Have you seen an increase in people coming to you for donor sperm?
HB: Outreach Health Group works with heterosexual couples, single women and same sex couples to assist them in creating families. Over the past 20 years, I have seen an increase in the number of single women and same sex couples utilizing our services. This may be due to increased exposure of our industry in the media and support from advocacy groups such as ivfbabble.com. These days the experience is more normalized and talked about rather than hidden away along with the sometimes associated feelings of shame or embarrassment.
Can anyone come to you for donor sperm?
HB: As the Canadian distributor for Xytex Cryo International, we work exclusively with Canadian clients. International patrons are encouraged to work directly with Xytex in the United States as they work globally with clinics and patients alike.
How does the process work?
HB: Clients are encouraged to visit the Xytex Cryo International website to learn more about the donor selection process and sign up for seven-day free access to expanded profiles. Once enrolled, they will see adult/child photos and comprehensive information detailing the medical, social and genetic history of each donor. In addition, each donor provides insight into their likes, interests and achievements as well as their Keirsey Temperament profile, one of the most widely used personality assessments in the world. Clients learn much more than just physical details, but about the breadth of the donors which is vital in future discussions between parent and offspring. Highly trained Client Specialists are available to speak personally with clients to answer questions and assist with the placing orders.
Are the donors anonymous?
Xytex Cryo International/Outreach Health Group has offered Open ID Release donors since 2000. This program allows donor conceived offspring to learn the identity of their donor upon turning 18 years old. Many offspring have come forward and are now communicating with their donors through the XYConnects, a moderated, online forum allowing you and your child to interact with others who have expanded their families with Xytex.
In this day and age, genetics testing services like Ancestry.com and 23 and Me have removed all semblance of anonymity. We encourage an open dialogue between parents and offspring at an early age about the method of their conception. There have been many stories over the years of offspring conceived via donor sperm experiencing much trauma when they are told later in life or “find out by accident” about their biological origins. There are many resources now available to assist with this conversation.
Where do you find your donors?
HB: Donors are recruited throughout the United States with a focus on the cultural diversity and specific desires of our clients.
How do you recruit donors?
HB: A rigorous vetting process ensures that Xytex Cryo International/Outreach Health Group provide highly qualified, healthy donors to our clients. All candidates undergo extensive physical exams which include regular blood draws and urine testing. We run background and education verifications and focus heavily not only the physical, but the mental health of our potential donors. After multi-tiered medical and social history screenings, all applicants are assessed by a clinical Psychologist and interviewed by a licensed social worker. We then test our donors for more than three dozen common genetic conditions further ensuring a safe, healthy product for those utilizing donor sperm to build their families.
Is there a limit to how many donations the donor can make?
HB: The average donor commits to participating for about a year. Donors are reimbursed for time and expenses incurred during their stint in the program but other benefits include receiving free medical care/testing and knowing that they are providing an invaluable service.
How can people find you?