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Profile of sperm donors in UK has changed

10 October 2005
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 329

Statistics accompanying the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA)'s publication of the results of its spermegg and embryo donation (SEED) review show that the profile of sperm donors in the UK has changed. The statistics show that men who donate sperm are now far less likely to fit the stereotypical image of students donating for pocket money and more likely to be slightly older men donating altruistically.

In April this year, the UK government made the decision to remove the anonymity of donors, sparking concerns that the number of men coming forward to donate sperm would decline, particularly if there was no incentive, in the form of payment, to do so. Currently, egg and sperm donors receive £15 for each time they donate, plus 'reasonable expenses'. The HFEA's SEED review has now recommended that donors should, in future, be compensated for lost earnings - to a maximum of £250 for each 'course' of sperm donation or cycle of egg donation.

The HFEA, as part of its review, conducted an analysis of people who volunteered to donate sperm and eggs in 2004-5. The research showed that the majority of sperm donors (69 per cent) were aged 30 or over, with the most common age group being 36-40. Newspaper reports have suggested that 'fathers are now more likely to donate sperm than students'. However, the statistics show that although the proportion of sperm donors who have their own children has increased slightly in the last ten years, only two-fifths of sperm donors surveyed had children, with 31.4 per cent of donors having two or more.

An HFEA spokesman said the SEED report recommendations were designed to make the donation process as easy and straightforward as possible and that the new guidance should simplify the system following the recent legislation removing anonymity and in the light of the European Union Tissue Directive. However, Josephine Quintavalle, from the pro-life pressure group Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE), said that the recommendation on compensating donors contravenes the Directive. In a press release, she said that 'CORE believes this violates the EU (European Union) Tissues and Cells Directive (Article 12(1)) which limits payment only to make good expenses and inconvenience'. She added: 'This new sum will be added to the existing expenses which are already paid to the donor, including accommodation, transport, babysitting and numerous other extras'.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Fathers now more likely to donate sperm than students
The Scotsman |  7 October 2005
Who are the UK's sperm donors? - Fertility regulator presents national picture of the people who donate
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority |  7 October 2005
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