An Australian fertility clinic has written to 25 male politicians asking them to donate sperm. Monash IVF clinic in Melbourne, Victoria, has asked all male MPs under the age of 45 if they have 'ever thought of becoming sperm donors'. The clinic's medical director, Gab Kovacs, says he was inspired by a recent celebrity campaign to recruit organ donors. The letter states: 'We hope that if some of the leading role models within our community become donors, others may follow suit'.
Stocks of donor sperm have apparently been falling in the state of Victoria since 1998, when a new law ruled that donors must agree to reveal their identities when a child turns 18. Kovacs said that before the new law came into force, Monash clinic had around 20 new donors per year, whereas only five were recruited last year. The clinic now has 100 clients seeking sperm, but only 13 donors.
Several clinicians in the UK have expressed fears that the numbers of egg, sperm and embryo donors will fall once new regulations removing anonymity come into force in April. The changes mean that anyone born from donations made after 5 April will be able to ask for identifying information about the donor, when they reach the age of 18. Some fertility experts predict that the decline in the number of donations will lead to infertile couples going abroad for treatment.
The Department of Health has launched a new campaign, developed in conjunction with the National Gamete Donation Trust (NGDT), which it hopes will raise public awareness about the benefits of egg and sperm donation. It is expected that future sperm donors are likely to be older men, who already have their family and who are motivated purely by altruism. The NGDT also hopes to raise the profile of egg donation, to encourage more women to come forward to donate their eggs.
Last November, the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) launched a public consultation on sperm, egg and embryo donation. It is seeking views on issues such as whether there should be limits on the number of children per donor, how donor's characteristics should be matched with patients, and how much compensation donors should be paid. One proposal is that compensation for egg donors should be raised to £1000, in recognition of the more invasive nature of the donation process, and to encourage more women to donate. The consultation takes the form of an online questionnaire, available via the HFEA's website, and is open until 4 February 2005.