The UK's first stand-alone clinic focused on recruiting new sperm donors, has announced its opening. The London Sperm Bank (LSB) - licensed by fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) - will incorporate two existing sperm banks, the Louis Hughes Sperm Bank, and the London Women's Clinic's (LWC's) own bank.
'This significant partnership will provide hope to thousands of women who may otherwise struggle to find treatment with the current shortage of donor sperm', said LSB's scientific director Dr Kamal Ahuja.
The LSB aims to expand its current stock of approximately 10,000 sperm vials to provide a speedier service and wider choice to women seeking donors. It serves all the LWC's clinics at present, but hopes to broaden this scope to other HFEA-licensed fertility clinics in the UK by 2011.
'Our aim is to give women in the UK maximum choice without having to undertake expensive travel abroad', the LSB's website says. 'We support the HFEA's anxiety about women procuring sperm from non-licensed sources'.
The creation of the LSB is partly a response to the country's 'critical' shortage of donor sperm. In 2008, the British Fertility Society published a report on sperm donation which called for a 'national co-ordinated strategy' to improve the donor infrastructure in the UK.
The LSB believe one possible explanation for the current shortage of sperm donors is the impact of the removal of donor anonymity in 2005, requiring that men provide identifying information to the HFEA when they donate. Any children conceived using the donated sperm have the right to request the donor's identifying information at age 18.
The clinic has designed a somewhat provocative logo which Dr Ahuja says: 'has a directness and openness which we believe will bring the whole subject of donor insemination into the mainstream', and which aims: 'to get more men thinking seriously about becoming a donor'.
Men wishing to make a donation at the LSB must be fit, healthy males aged between 18 and 45 years.