Since the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) removed donor anonymity in 2005 to allow children born from donated sperm or eggs to trace their biological parents, there has been a significant drop in the number of egg and sperm donors. For some time now the shortage of eggs has been overcome by the careful use of ‘egg sharing schemes’, however the supply of donor sperm has been so significantly affected that the majority of patients currently needing it are either unsuccessful in acquiring it, have very limited choice or have to import it from abroad.
The Herts and Essex Fertility Centre is one of a number of clinics around the UK who have introduced sperm sharing schemes, which work in the same way as the established and successful egg sharing schemes. This allows a male with normal sperm parameters to donate samples to help others requiring donor sperm to create their families, while receiving one heavily discounted treatment cycle* for his partner in return.
How Do I Know If I Am Eligible To Become A Sperm Sharer?
All men between the ages of 18 and 45 with normal sperm parameters are eligible to consider the sharing scheme. If you are interested in the scheme you will need to discuss it with one of our fertility consultants and complete a sperm donor health questionnaire. If you have already had your sperm analysis done we may be able to advise you immediately whether you are eligible for the scheme. If you have not had your analysis done then we will do this at the clinic and then discuss your eligibility.
What Counselling Will Be Given?
You will be required to see our independent counsellor who will talk you though all the implications you and your partner will need to consider before donating your sperm. This is free of charge. The counselling is especially important because of the HFEA’s rule requiring all those donating either sperm or eggs to be identifiable and contactable by any children born as a result of their donation, after they’ve turned 18, if they request the information.
As a patient you will already have had or will be about to have screening tests for HIV, Hep B and Hep C. To become a sperm sharer you are also required to have a number of additional screening tests to ensure the safety of any recipients.
When you have provided us with your last sample for donation your sperm will be placed into quarantine for 6 months. After this time you will need to retake some of the screening tests. This is because although your tests were negative at the point of production you could have acquired an infection recently which would not show up so soon in any of the screening tests. Leaving the samples for 6 months and rescreening you allows us to confirm that you are free from infection. If all your tests are negative then your sperm will be released for the treatment of others.
How Many Samples Do I Need to Provide?
It is estimated that you will need to make between 6 and 8 visits to the clinic to freeze your sperm samples. These would all need to be within 8 weeks of starting on the sharing programme. On the first of these appointments you would also need to fill out some consent forms for our regulatory body, the HFEA, with whom you will become registered.
Sperm donation does require commitment to attend the clinic for a number of visits, so you do need to first consider carefully whether this is definitely something you want to do, as well as your proximity to the centre.
Samples must have been banked and quarantined before your own treatment cycle with your partner begins.
Can I Restrict the Use of the Sperm in Any Way?
You are able to restrict the number of babies born to families from your sperm and there is already a legal maximum limit of 10 families put in place by the HFEA in order to safeguard you. You are also able to withdraw your consent at any time should you change your mind. In this instance you will be liable for all screening costs incurred as a result of your donation as well as the cost of your treatment cycle (including cost of drugs).
Who Will Have Information About My Donation?
The only people who will be informed of your donation are the HFEA and the staff at the Herts and Essex Clinic. You will be recorded as a sperm donor on the HFEA’s register and any patient using your sperm will have their treatment and any resulting outcome recorded as well.
For more information visit www.hfea.gov.uk.
When Will You Reimburse Us For the Donation?
You will be required to wait for your IVF treatment until the quarantine period is complete and your sperm has been released for use by others. You will then be able to begin your own free IVF treatment.
What Should I Do Now?
For more information on sperm sharing please contact our Donation Coordinator Paula Lynch on 01992 78 50 65 or email Paula.firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Free standard IVF cycle, excluding drugs