Sperm donation has been around for decades

A recent article profiled Dr. Helena Wright, a renowned doctor and educator who practiced during World War I in England. During this time, with the help of a sperm donor known by the pseudonym “Derek” Helena assisted hundreds of women whose husbands had returned from the war and were unable to father children. Many of these men experienced “shell-shock” or physical injury, making it difficult for them to perform sexually.

Derek was was a healthy, handsome man who had an “unconventional morality” for the time. He was willing to push the boundaries of what was socially acceptable at the time, in donating his sperm so that many of Helena’s patients could realize their dreams of becoming a mother. Derek had not gone to war like his brother because he had been ordered by his father to staff the family rubber plantation for the war effort.  His wife Suzanne, a nurse, introduced him to Dr. Helena Wright. Helena confided in Derek that she had over 1,000 women seeking a sperm donor. Given that Derek’s brother was killed in the war, he felt compelled to help women whose husbands were unable to father children because of their war injuries.

Derek visited approximately 500 women in the subsequent years. Every time that a child was conceived, Helena would send Derek a telegram. Derek’s wife appeared to be accommodating to this unique agreement. Over his lifetime, Derek fathered 496 children. He also had 3 sons with his wife. The article concludes,

Derek and Helena’s collaboration was a success for which neither could ever take credit, but they were doing good: providing longed-for children where there would have been none.”

Read more about Dr. Helena Wright’s work here.

Read more about sperm donation here and here.

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