Sperm donor shortage crisis is now at its worst for 20 years
Press release issued: 31 October 2006
Figures from the Human Embryology and Fertility Authority for 2005 show that nationally a mere 18 men were cleared to donate sperm to help couples achieve parenthood through IVF and other treatments in April, (12 in May and 10 in June).
It’s a desperate shortage that was once again highlighted by Dr Catherine Coulson of Bristol University’s Centre for Reproductive Medicine, when she appeared on the BBC’s Politics Show and Points West (Sunday October 22, 2006).
“The situation is at its gravest for 20 years,” says gamete donation specialist Dr Coulson, ”and it means we are simply unable to treat women in need of donated sperm within an acceptable time frame. A few very generous men have come forward out of a genuine desire to help childless couples and we’re very grateful to them. However, more are urgently needed to avoid some couples having to wait beyond the age when they are at their most fertile – a factor which could be critical.”
Sunday’s Politics Show featured a couple that were currently poised for the birth of their second donor child, along with another couple who have been on the waiting list for some while to begin treatment to have their first child.
“The drop in sperm donors coming forward is generally attributed to recent changes in the law that mean a donor child is entitled to know the identity of the biological father once he or she reaches 18,” says Dr Coulson. “The reality, however, is that many are unlikely to take this option up - or will simply remain unaware of their origins as a result of their parents’ decision not to inform them. Donors should be reassured that they are entirely absolved of any legal or financial responsibility should a donor child make contact at some time in the future.”