Australian cricket fast bowler urges men to consider sperm donation after baby joy – ABC News

Australian cricket fast bowler urges men to consider sperm donation after baby joy
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Australian fast bowler Megan Schutt may be reaching new heights in her cricketing career, but it was the birth of her daughter Rylee — conceived via a sperm donation — that changed her perspective on life.
Rylee was born three months premature, prompting Megan and her wife Jess to share their story — and join the call for more people to become sperm donors.
Rylee came into the world with the help of an Adelaide fertility specialist and a process called reciprocal IVF.
Megan's egg was fertilised using donor sperm and implanted into Jess's womb.
While the couple fell pregnant quickly, Jess had a complicated pregnancy — after several emergency hospitalisations and scans, doctors found that Rylee was not growing as she should have been.
The couple was told that, at only 24 weeks, their daughter could be born any day.
At 27 weeks, a spike in Rylee's heart rate meant Jess had to be monitored in hospital.
Rylee was born three months early, at just 28 weeks.
At first, Megan and Jess were told to prepare for a "long journey", and Rylee spent more than 50 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Adelaide's Women's and Children's Hospital.
"She'd always been very healthy and we were very blessed in that sense because there were some kids in there that weren't so fortunate," Megan said.
"The doctors and nurses were really good at reassuring us that Rylee's very healthy, all her organs had developed beautifully.
"While she was extremely early and really small, she's been healthy ever since."
Adelaide fertility specialist Vamsee Thalluri said premature birth brought with it a higher risk of health issues, including gut and breathing problems, and an increased risk of infection.
"It's never easy when baby comes a little bit early and particularly under about 30 weeks, the baby often will need to spend a little time in the hospital," Dr Thalluri said.
"[The family] seems to be tolerating things very well, all things considered, and it certainly sounds like Rylee's pulled through very well."
Six weeks after Rylee's birth, Megan and Jess could finally take her home – four weeks ahead of her original due date.
They now hope to help others going through the same challenges.
"You've kind of got to roll with the punches in that situation and understand that all the doctors and nurses are there to help you," Megan said.
"There's lots of help and support within the hospital and I guess you just make a lot of friends with the other families in there too."
"They also have nurture support groups for any parents struggling or who need some advice," Jess said.
At 15 months old, Rylee is hard to keep up with – and is smashing all her milestones.
She is now just days away from taking her first steps on her own.
"She's too fast, she's too hyperactive and we need to probably slow her down, which is extremely hard to do," Megan said.
Megan and Jess's experience has also prompted them to join the call for more people to donate sperm, to help other same-sex couples start families.
The latest statistics on fertility treatments in Australia and New Zealand from 2020 show one in seven assisted reproductive treatments were in single females or female-female couples.
"People just don't think to do it in Australia," Megan said.
Australia's stocks of donor sperm are low, even relative to our population — but lack of diversity is also an issue.
"In America, people are paid to do it, and that might be an incentive for some, but IVF isn't really even spoken about in general.
"If we can just talk about the IVF process more in terms of heterosexual couples, not just same-sex, then that can hopefully just raise awareness for people wanting to donate sperm."
Dr Thalluri said local donation numbers in South Australia were low, prompting Megan and Jess to choose a donor from California.
"We've seen a huge increase in people wanting to access our sperm donor program," he said.
"It's really a special gift that they can give someone.
"Obviously, there's a lot of awareness out there about sort of donating other organs and these sorts of things, but perhaps not quite as much awareness out there for things like sperm donors and indeed egg donors as well."
While Rylee's health is now thriving, so is Megan's career — the fast bowler recently won the Women's Big Bash League title with the Adelaide Strikers.
She took her 100th WBBL wicket this season, and became the first player in the history of the tournament to take six wickets in an innings.
She is currently overseas representing Australia for its five-match T20 tour of India.
But cricket will always come second.
"I know my life was going to change once we had Rylee," she said.
"It puts life into perspective, you know.
"Cricket is just a sport, it's just a game, it's my career for now, but it won't be forever, whereas Rylee is forever."
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