Hello – I’m JR Silver and am proud to have recently joined IVF Babble as one of its newest ambassadors
I am the author behind the illustrated children’s book, “Sharing Seeds”, a donor sperm story for mummy, daddy, and children.
I have in mind to produce further books under the “Sharing Seeds” name, as there are many fertility stories that are out there waiting to be “shared”. I genuinely believe such stories are increasingly relevant for parents to read to and with their children, whether conceived via fertility treatment or otherwise, so that children conceived via these modern-day miracles of science can truly relate to, connect with, and be accepted by all.
Over the coming months, I will also be penning some short articles for the IVF Babble magazine, as I share some hopefully useful insights into the fertility journey my wife and I have been on. The inspiration behind the first book came from looking for suitable reading material for our young donor sperm conceived children. My wife and I have a boy aged 3 and a girl aged 1 and, as I sit here writing today, I can tell you we feel incredibly blessed and happy with the young family we have created.
Life was not always happy
If I cast my mind back to the dark year of 2014, I had just lost my older sister to breast cancer, both of us had been diagnosed with the BRCA 1 cancer gene and I was then diagnosed with azoospermia (zero sperm count). My wife and I had been married for a little over a year and, as you can imagine, these were testing times for any newly married couple to have to endure.
Until today, I always wondered whether I was the only person in the world unlucky enough to have both BRCA 1 and azoospermia. This led me to do a quick bit of Google research and it tells me that I may actually have a few companions out there! According to Google:
The BRCA 1 gene is carried by 1 in every 400 people, albeit in people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent (such as me) the risk is 1 in 40.
Azoospermia impacts around 1 in every 100 men
Therefore, compared with an overall UK population of around 33 million men, this makes me 1 of the 825 UK men who the statistics tell us may currently have both the BRCA 1 and azoospermia (a 0.000025% chance).
Further, amongst a sample of around 131,000 Jewish men currently resident in the UK, this makes me 1 of the 33 who may currently be burdened with both (a 0.00025% chance).
So, having carried out that little bit of research, it tells me I am not alone (which is nice!) but, in reality, I am very very very very unlucky to have been impacted by both BRCA 1 and azoospermia. But I also suppose that depends on how you look at things: my wife and I have encountered some fantastic people over the last few years, none more marvellous than our fertility counsellor and she would always encourage us to recast our way of thinking.
So let’s do that now: instead of focusing on the negative aspects of BRCA 1 and azoospermia, let’s look at some of the positives
it was my BRCA 1 diagnosis that started our fertility journey back in 2013 as potential PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) patients, looking to eliminate the BRCA1 gene from my future lineage. This then led us to fertility tests and discovering my azoospermia, followed by (slowly) embracing the option of donor sperm and, ultimately, the birth of two beautiful incredible children who have a zero chance of inheriting BRCA 1 from me.
You may be thinking it’s easy to recast my mind to positive thoughts now we have such a blessed outcome. However, at the same time, the BRCA 1 gene and (according to some research) azoospermia have left me at an increased risk of various cancers, and I have also had to accept not fathering children via my own sperm and, most tragically, there is the older sister taken from us far too early.
Yet I would also point to the untimely passing of my sister as my most crucial source of inspiration, as I have had the perspective acquired from this loss to be appreciative of simply being able to wake up and share each new day with my wife and children (something my sister was cruelly deprived of, leaving behind an amazingly strong husband and two precious young daughters).
I will expand on some of the above themes and others over the coming months, as well as telling you more about some of the wonderful people we have met along the way.
For now, take each day as it comes, keep trying to focus on the positives, and take care
Best wishes, JR Silver
To buy “Sharing Seeds”, click here