The Scottish Government and NHS Scotland have launched their first campaign to encourage people to become sperm and egg donors. The initiative is being launched alongside four NHS fertility centres in Scotland: Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
New research suggested that almost half of people in Scotland would consider donating gametes to those who need help to conceive. Hence, the initiative was launched to encourage these people to donate. Currently, the demand for egg and sperm donors exceeds their availability, with more than 200 people waiting for a donor in Scotland, therefore a drive in the number of altruistic donations would help a large number of families.
'Hundreds of people in Scotland need the help of egg or sperm donors to give them the chance to become parents and the gift of starting a family,' Maree Todd, the minister for public health, women's health and sport in Scotland said. 'Donating your eggs or sperm is an important decision and this campaign aims to highlight the options available to people who have carefully considered doing so… Demand for egg and sperm donations through the NHS remains high – altruistic donations provide the potential to give the joy of starting a family to others.'
Sixty-eight percent of those who said they would consider donating had said they believed it is a kind thing to do – however, over a quarter of these (27 percent) felt that they were not informed enough about donation or they would not know how to donate.
Other reasons people gave for considering donation included wanting to help others become parents, wanting to create new life and knowing friends and family who have had fertility issues of their own.
To be eligible to donate eggs, the donor must be aged between 18 and 35, and to donate sperm it is 18 to 45. All donors must also be healthy, non-smokers, and have no significant illness or inherited diseases. A biological family history is also required. Egg donors must be able to commit to the programme for about three months and sperm donors must be able to make regular donations.
Gwenda Burns, chief executive of the charity Fertility Network UK said: 'Scotland currently leads the way in the UK offering the gold standard of up to three full NHS IVF cycles, including access for couples where one partner has no biological child. The NHS donor campaign will further ensure equitable and fair access to treatment for patients who require donor treatment. We are proud and delighted to be involved in the campaign.'
She added, 'Raising awareness about the campaign is vital and whether you know someone who has had a personal struggle to conceive, or you just want to help others, becoming a sperm or egg donor for the NHS is an incredible act of generosity.'
The campaign adverts will run on a number of platforms throughout Scotland, including posters in gyms, audio adverts on Spotify, social media and YouTube and other digital channels to help raise awareness. The campaign can be followed on social media with the hashtag #JoyLoveHope.