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Liverpool fertility clinic imports sperm after fall in donors

13 May 2013
Appeared in BioNews 704

A Liverpool fertility clinic has been forced to import sperm from Manchester and London after a significant fall in local donations.

The Hewitt Fertility Centre is struggling to meet demand for sperm, meaning stocks are being bought in from other clinics.

'It's not just our stocks that are low, it is all stocks, because the law concerning donors changed some years ago. Now donors only get reasonable expenses as opposed to getting paid and they can no longer remain anonymous', said Professor Charles Kingsland, lead consultant at the Hewitt Fertility Centre.

'Liverpool used to have one of the biggest sperm banks. Since 2006, when the law changed, there was a quick decline. Now couples face a wait of over a year before a donor becomes available', Professor Kingsland added.

This problem stretches back to the founding of a sperm donor database by the British government in 2000, according to the Guardian, after which sperm donations began to decline. This was then intensified by further law changes in 2005, meaning that sperm and egg donors no longer received payment for their donation, but instead claimed travel expenses. Donors also no longer have the right to anonymity, meaning donor-conceived children can find out the identity of their biological parents.

On average, 4,000 people in the UK use donor insemination every year, with 500 donors needed to enable this. However, in the year following the removal of donor anonymity, the number of suitable sperm donors stood at 307 (reported in BioNews 515).

The longer wait for a sperm donor in recent years has led to some people using sperm from clinics abroad, such as in Denmark, where donors still have the right to anonymity. People receiving donor insemination in Britain are required to choose a non-anonymous donor, but if they travel abroad for the treatment, they can select sperm from an anonymous donor.

The Hewitt Fertility Clinic is keen to boost sperm donation and has started a campaign to encourage more men to donate. However, they stress that donors should be fully informed about the implications, including the possibility that any resulting children may wish to contact them in the future.

'We're looking for donors who have the maturity to understand the implications of donating - not only for the recipients of their sperm, but for the donor himself', Professor Kingsland told the Liverpool Echo.

Liverpool fertility clinic forced to import sperm... from Manchester
Liverpool Echo |  7 May 2013
Liverpool fertility clinic turns to Manchester to help boost sperm supplies
Metro |  7 May 2013
Manchester Fertility Services helps Liverpool's shortage of sperm donations
Click Manchester |  7 May 2013
14 July 2014 - by Olivia Montuschi 
Danish sperm accounts for a third of the sperm imported into the UK. But does it matter that so many children are being created with 'Viking' sperm?...
31 August 2010 - by Rose Palmer 
Egg and sperm donors in the UK could receive increased compensation under new proposals aimed at reducing the number of couples travelling abroad for treatment...
6 July 2009 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
An acute shortage of donor sperm is diminishing the capacity of the UK's public and private health sectors to treat infertility, resulting in growing concern and lengthening waiting lists at clinics. The shortage is widely attributed to the removal, in 2005, of entitlement to donor anonymity. The Progress Educational Trust, with support from the Royal Society of Medicine and the British Fertility Society (BFS) staged a panel discussion on Thursday 25 June 2009 entitled 'Banking Crisis - what ...
29 June 2009 - by Dr Alan Thornhill 
Long before the current commercial banking crisis, the UK suffered another banking crisis - that of donor sperm shortages. The difference is that the sperm bank crisis is not global. Instead it is quintessentially British - full of principle and good intention but sadly resulting from compromise and inconsistency. Only the areas of inconsistency are consistent: the removal of anonymity, donor expenses, screening and selection guidelines and the limitations on use of individual donors. Taken s...
29 November 2004 - by BioNews 
Cryos International, a Danish sperm bank, is said to have recruited 40 sperm donors to meet British requirements, ready to supply the UK market when rules on sperm donation change on 5 April 2005. Cryos, the largest commercial sperm bank in the world, hopes to take advantage of an expected...
donor numbers went *up* after anonymity was ended ( - 14/05/2013)
I'm tired of people suggesting that ending donor anonymity resulted in fewer donors.  It simply didn't happen.

According to HFEA figures, the numbers of sperm donors have gone *up* six years in a row since the ending of anonymity, thus reversing a three year decline.  The 480 donors in 2010 was the highest figure since they started keeping records, and more than double the figure in 2004 just before anonymity ended.
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