03 August 2009
ByAppeared in BioNews 519
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) published new figures showing the number of new egg and sperm donors registered in 2008. The figures published on 31 July 2009 show that the number of both sperm and egg donors has increased.
The figures show that there were 284 sperm donors for the year 2008 this is an increase of 20 on the previous year. The number of sperm donors dropped to 224 in 2004 prior to the removal of donor anonymity in 2005. However, since that low point the number of donors has slowly crept up each year, but has still not matched the 1996 figure of 417 the highest number of donors recorded by the HFEA and has been further countervailed by a decreasing willingness to donate sperm to banks for use by multiple families, resulting in a worsening shortage overall.
In relation to egg donation the lowest figure this century came in 2006 when there were only 783 donors, the figures published last week show 1084 donors for 2008. This is an increase of 128 on last year. Despite these increases, there is still a shortage of donated gametes.
Professor Lisa Jardine, Chair of the HFEA, who in an interview published in the Times last week called for a public debate to decide whether people should be paid for donating eggs and sperm to infertile couples, said: 'Egg and sperm donors deserve enormous gratitude, particularly when we consider how important donation remains for many families seeking assisted reproduction. Despite improved techniques such as ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), donors are still essential to help many people for whom a family is otherwise impossible.'