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Boost to egg and sperm donations needed, says HFEA

16 April 2012
Appeared in BioNews 652

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has launched a new strategy to increase awareness of egg and sperm donation and to improve the care of donors. It aims to address perceived obstacles to donor recruitment aired during its consultation on gamete donation last year.

The HFEA will set up the National Donation Strategy Group to review the current system of donation and to suggest improvements, which could help boost donor numbers. Professor Lisa Jardine, chair of the HFEA, said: 'We are using our unique position as the national regulator to bring together a wide range of expertise to gather valuable knowledge that will help us build a better environment for donation'.

According to HFEA statistics, around one in six couples in the UK are affected by infertility, many of whom could be helped by the donation of eggs or sperm. The HFEA says demand for donor treatment in the UK is greater than the supply of donors and following a review of its donation policies has agreed to take a more 'proactive role' to improve donor recruitment and retention.

The new strategy seeks to increase awareness of donation and improve information provided to donors. The strategy group will investigate options designed to achieve this aim. One potential source of gametes is from women undergoing IVF, as the treatment will often stimulate a woman to produce more eggs than they will use. 'Now some of them choose to freeze those for further attempts but there may well be more eggs than that, in which case donating them to another woman who doesn't have viable eggs of her own is the most extraordinary gift', said Professor Jardine.

Another aim of the strategy group will be to look at ways to help donors to provide more information about themselves, for the benefit of the recipient parents and future children. In addition, the HFEA wants to address the 'customer service' that donors receive in clinics. Ms Laura Witjens, chair of the National Gamete Donation Trust, said that the strategy group 'will ensure that donors are properly looked after and valued for their commitments'.

Critics have responded that donors should not be further encouraged to donate. 'It's one thing to incur risks for your own fertility treatment', said Mrs Josephine Quintavalle, of the campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics. '[It is] quite another to be exposed to those risks for the benefit of other mothers'.

The decision to set up the strategy group follows the launch of a new policy in October 2011, which increased the compensation offered to donors. Egg donors are now offered £750 per cycle and sperm donors £35 per visit. The policy came into force on 1 April.

Egg and sperm donors: HFEA in drive to increase numbers
BBC |  5 April 2012
Egg donation encouragement urged
Press Association |  4 April 2012
Fertility authority aims to boost donations
Financial Times |  4 April 2012
Fertility regulator launches strategy to boost egg and sperm donation
HFEA |  4 April 2012
Sperm and egg donation 'should be like giving blood'
Telegraph |  4 April 2012
7 September 2015 - by Ayala Ochert 
A year after it opened, the UK's national sperm bank has only nine registered donors, says its chief executive Laura Witjens, who is planning a major new recruitment drive at the end of this month...
9 July 2013 - by Siobhan Chan 
The majority of egg donors donate for altruistic reasons, although personal benefits such as financial compensation are also a factor, according to a large European study...
1 October 2012 - by Ayesha Ahmad 
The Danish Government is currently reviewing its guidelines on sperm donation policies following the discovery that a donor has passed on a rare genetic condition to at least five children...
28 August 2012 - by Daniel Malynn 
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23 July 2012 - by Dr Marilyn Crawshaw and Jennie Hunt 
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) recently announced membership of its newly formed National Donation Strategy Group, set up in response to the findings of its earlier Donation Review, which, it says, uncovered numerous barriers to gamete donation....
27 February 2012 - by Ayesha Ahmad 
The exchange rate between the euro and Denmark's krone is causing a crisis for the sperm banking business in Ireland, reports the Irish Independent....
12 December 2011 - by Dr Ruth Shidlo 
Living in Israel, where gamete donor anonymity still rules supreme, I confess I envy the UK's clear focus on the welfare of the donor conceived child and the evolution of the legal rights of offspring...
12 December 2011 - by Dr Nadeem Shaikh 
A man in the United States is reportedly being investigated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after offering his sperm for donation. Trent Arsenault, a 36 year-old computer security expert from California, has set up a website offering his sperm without charge to anyone who wishes to use it to have a baby....
14 November 2011 - by Jessica Ware 
IVF using donated egg or sperm other than from a spouse will remain banned in Austria. This was the final decision made by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (the Court) on 3 November in the closing of the case SH and others v Austria....
31 October 2011 - by Andrew Proven Donor 
A shortfall in donated sperm, we are told, has pushed potential recipients onto websites where private sperm donors hawk their reproductive wares. If only the officially sanctioned sperm banks were well stocked, the thinking goes, women would not have to venture into that murky world. But is that correct? What if sperm donation outside the official channels actually carried certain advantages over the clinic system...
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