View Full Version : Sperm Bank Crisis in the UK

September 26th, 2006, 09:07 PM
The Times September 14, 2006

Releasing donors' names causes sperm bank crisis

By Mark Henderson, Science Editor

HUNDREDS of infertile couples could miss the chance to have a baby because of a nationwide shortage of sperm donors.

More than two thirds of British fertility clinics have been unable to recruit donors or have had “great difficulty” in buying supplies, since the Government lifted donors’ lifelong anonymity last year, research shows.

BBC News found that 50 of the 74 clinics and sperm banks that responded to its survey are not recruiting new donors.

There are 84 licensed centres for sperm donation in Britain. Those that can find men to donate have only 169 approved donors on their books and 90 per cent of these serve just ten clinics. There is only one registered donor in Scotland, and none in Northern Ireland.

This compares with a peak of 459 in the 1990s, when men could donate sperm knowing that any offspring would not have the right to trace them.

This provision was removed in April last year, despite warnings from fertility doctors that it would lead to a collapse in supply. The Government argued that children conceived from donated sperm or eggs had a right to know the identity of their biological parents.

Allan Pacey, head of andrology at Sheffield University and Secretary of the British Fertility Society, said: “If there aren’t enough men who are willing to donate and be identified to the donor-conceived offspring later in life, and if we don’t have the ability to import sperm from other countries because the regulations are too tough, then we are not going to be able to treat patients that require donor sperm treatments.

“Sadly some will go without. I think we are certainly in a crisis at the moment. Most of the clinics are finding it very difficult to get enough sperm to treat their patients.”

He said that many patients who needed donated sperm to conceive were considering travelling abroad.

“It leaves patients in a desperate situation. If they are unable to get treatment in their local clinic, then they are looking to other sources. Some are getting flights to other European countries. Others may turn to internet sites that provide sperm for home insemination. These are signs of desperation and I thoroughly understand them.”

Zoe and Colin Veal, whose only possibility of conceiving is by using donated sperm or an IVF technique called ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection), were told by their Bristol clinic that there was no sperm available.

Mrs Veal said: “I think it was a huge shock as for the first time we realised that we weren’t going to be able to access treatment. You then have to start thinking about where you go from here and then you have to start thinking about risks that you might have to take, such as buying fresh sperm over the internet or whether you just move on and become a childless couple permanently. Without sperm you can’t have a baby, and so that is the end of the line.”

Mark Hamilton, chairman of the British Fertility Society, said: “The British Fertility Society is well aware of the difficulties many patients throughout the country are experiencing in accessing gamete donation services, in particular donor insemination treatment.

“Provision of such services requires significant resources to attract, recruit, screen, and counsel prospective donors. The survey reinforces our own findings that many clinics are now finding it impossible to provide these services.

“One solution may be the development of a nationally co-ordinated donor recruitment service, managed through adequately resourced recruitment centres, to meet the urgent needs of our patients.”

Copyright 2006 Times Newspapers Ltd.

September 28th, 2006, 10:08 AM
treat patients that require donor sperm treatments

Although I do sympathise with people that have problems having children, somehow looking at this as some sort of crisis is, well, kind of bizzarre.

We are not in the midst of a shortage of offspring, and there are many children out there that need adoption by a family that will care for them.

"Sperm treatments" sound like they have cancer or something.

We, as a species, have this ingraned need to continue our own genetic line that has been with us, and others, since life began. Somehow making it seem like a medical travesty is a little hard to grasp, emotionally.....

September 28th, 2006, 10:17 AM
The information is accurate, but the thread is a parody of the recent spate of UK related infotainment threads.


September 28th, 2006, 11:15 AM
The information is accurate, but the thread is a parody of the recent spate of UK related infotainment threads.


Ahhh, Zippy, that's very sly. ;)

September 29th, 2006, 06:32 AM
May I suggest that we take the first steps to turn this forum into the Wired London Forum - New York could get its own sub-section ;)

September 29th, 2006, 10:37 AM
Hmmmm, sounds like the new-colonists are beginning to revolt ^^^

All necessary steps should be taken to isolate and neutralize any such revolutionary writings / activities.


November 16th, 2006, 09:39 PM
...and let's not forget that leisure suits cause cancer. Remember?

November 23rd, 2006, 09:23 AM
The only time I served prison time was for counterfeiting bull semen. To be honest I was glad of the rest :)