Meltdown in British sperm-banking sector

Does anyone really wonder why sperm donors might prefer anonymity? It’s not like donating an old car — the desire for privacy is quite understandable. So, it’s not surprising that Britain, which abandoned sperm-donor confidentiality laws in 2005, is now facing a sperm-donor deficit.  The numbers don’t lie. Immediately after anonymity disappeared, the number of ...

591526_081114_spermbank2.jpg
591526_081114_spermbank2.jpg

Does anyone really wonder why sperm donors might prefer anonymity? It's not like donating an old car -- the desire for privacy is quite understandable. So, it's not surprising that Britain, which abandoned sperm-donor confidentiality laws in 2005, is now facing a sperm-donor deficit

The numbers don't lie. Immediately after anonymity disappeared, the number of women who received donor sperm went from 2,727 in 2005 to 2,107 in 2006. It's estimated that 500 donors are needed to match the 4,000 women who undergo donor insemination in Britain each year. Reports show only 307 donors registered in 2006, not nearly enough.

Some fertility experts, like doctors Mark Hamilton and Allan Pacey, from the British Fertility Society are looking to work around the shortage.

Does anyone really wonder why sperm donors might prefer anonymity? It’s not like donating an old car — the desire for privacy is quite understandable. So, it’s not surprising that Britain, which abandoned sperm-donor confidentiality laws in 2005, is now facing a sperm-donor deficit

The numbers don’t lie. Immediately after anonymity disappeared, the number of women who received donor sperm went from 2,727 in 2005 to 2,107 in 2006. It’s estimated that 500 donors are needed to match the 4,000 women who undergo donor insemination in Britain each year. Reports show only 307 donors registered in 2006, not nearly enough.

Some fertility experts, like doctors Mark Hamilton and Allan Pacey, from the British Fertility Society are looking to work around the shortage.

They’ve suggested raising the limit on the number of families who can use the same sperm donor — currently only 10 babies are allowed to result from each donor, a measure they feel lacks real scientific backing. They’ve also suggested a sperm-sharing program (an arrangement where men whose partners need in vitro fertilization become donors), but rejected a proposal to allow older donors to donate because of health concerns, like gene mutation.

Dr. Pacey says the countries with enough sperm to go around, especially the United States and Spain, are those “that pay donors or allow anonymity.” While he also said that Britain is importing sperm from Scandinavia, he suspects that with such long waiting lines for sperm donors, Brits will simply have to shop elsewhere.

Photo: iStockphoto.com

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