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UK national sperm bank given green light

11 August 2014
Appeared in BioNews 766

The first national sperm bank is to open in England this October after receiving a £77,000 grant from the Department of Health.

The service, which will be based at Birmingham Women's Hospital, will cover recruitment and screening of sperm donors and provide donor information to those looking to buy sperm samples.

Charles Lister, chair of the National Gamete Donation Trust (NGDT), said: 'The National Sperm Bank will increase the number of donor samples available for UK licensed clinics, both NHS and private, meaning that many more patients can be treated at a clinic of their choice, in a safe and secure manner, at the time when their treatment is needed'.

Currently, there is a UK-wide shortage of sperm donors, meaning patients can face lengthy waiting lists, risk unregulated alternatives, look for donors abroad or cease treatment altogether. It is hoped that the new service will help to alleviate these problems.

Natasha Canfer, NGDT trustee, has previously spoken of the need to improve the infrastructure of the British donor service (see BioNews 764). 'In the UK, until now, with the exception of a handful of clinics, recruiting donors on a small scale just hasn't been working'. She believes that the centre will 'undoubtedly benefit thousands of patients affected by infertility... it is also set to improve the way sperm donors are treated'.

As part of an article with the headline 'NHS to fund sperm bank for lesbians' in the Mail on Sunday, the Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali wrote: 'This bank will allow women to choose from profiles of donors, which will include educational attainment and "attractiveness" criteria, raising the spectre of "designer babies", born to the parents' specifications'. The article provoked a strong reaction on Twitter, with many condemning the newspaper's angle.

Laura Witjens, chief executive of the NGDT, tweeted: 'Meanwhile, in the midst of all the media hype, we just focus on putting up a national service for ALL patients otherwise remaining childless'.

National sperm bank to be launched amid donor shortage
The Guardian |  3 August 2014
NHS to fund sperm bank for lesbians: New generation of fatherless families... paid for by YOU
MailOnline |  2 August 2014
Twitter users mock Mail on Sunday’s ‘sperm bank for lesbians’ front page
Gay Star News |  3 August 2014
UK sperm bank to be opened in Birmingham
BBC News |  3 August 2014
World's First National Sperm Bank Launching in England Thousands affected by infertility to benefit
National Gamete Donation Trust (press release) |  24 July 2014
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...
18 May 2015 - by Dr Kamal Ahuja 
For the first time, a British sperm bank has sufficient stocks and donors to begin supplying clinics registered by the HFEA. The move marks a shift in the dynamics of UK sperm donation and would suggest that the perception of any shortage of donor sperm in Britain is no longer true...
10 November 2014 - by Jenny Sharpe 
An Australian woman has become engaged to the sperm donor who fathered her one-year-old daughter...
3 November 2014 - by Sean Byrne 
A national sperm bank set up by a £77,000 grant from the UK's Department of Health has now opened for business....
28 July 2014 - by Natasha Canfer 
In July 2014, the Department of Health announced that it had awarded the National Gamete Donation Trust funding to set up an independent National Sperm Bank in partnership with Birmingham Women's Hospital....
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?...
7 April 2014 - by Dr Ruth Curson 
Sadly, there are currently not enough egg and sperm donors in the UK to meet our needs. Recipients are now seeking alternative routes to find donors, either by travelling abroad or from unregulated internet sites: both with the potential for unwanted consequences...
26 November 2012 - by Sarah Norcross 
Gamete donation is big business at the Fertility Show. Why do clinics from far and wide pay thousands of pounds to exhibit in London? The simple answer is to make money. But why come to the UK? Because in the UK there is a shortage of gamete donors, or at least a perceived shortage, that's why...
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