Would you like to work for the National Gamete Donation Trust?

3049_ngdt_logo_rgb_2016_05_24_11_07_41_am-190x78.jpgThe National Gamete Donation Trust is looking for a new National Coordinator who will be responsible for the day to day management of the charity. It sounds a fascinating job for anyone interested in the fertility field, and you would be the first port of call for many different people and organisations and discussions are often of a sensitive and confidential nature.

It is a part-time role (30 hours a week) working from home, and involves flexible working and attending some meetings with trustees and stakeholders. The meetings are mostly in central London, Birmingham and the South East, so you should ideally be located within easy reach of these. You can find more details about the job and how to apply here 

Who will you find at this year’s Fertility Show?

logoIt’s here at last – the seminar details for this year’s Fertility Show are now available online for you to browse! Once again, there are a really great array of speakers covering pretty much everything you might want to find out about fertility problems, tests and treatments.

Starting with the basics, there are talks from Zita West, nutritionist Marilyn Glenville and IVF Hammersmith’s Stuart Lavery. There are talks on ovarian reserve (from  James Nicopoullos, Consultant Gynaecologist at the Lister Fertility Clinic) and on the causes of infertility, and Infertility Network UK trustee Jessica Hepburn will be talking about the patient experience. Leading consultant Yacoub Khalaf will explain how to improve your chances of success, Professor Geeta Nargund, Medical Director of CREATE Fertility,will be looking at natural cycle and mild IVF, the HFEA’s Juliet Tizzard will discuss making sense of success rates and I will be talking about choosing a clinic.

There are some interesting debates on new techniques in IVF and on dealing with particular problems. Professor Lesley Regan will be covering recurrent miscarriage, Dimitrios Nikolaou, lead clinician at Chelsea and Westminster NHS Hospital, will talk about treatment for over 40s while Dr Melanie Davies, consultant in the Reproductive Medicine Unit at London’s NHS University College Hospital will talk about how to deal with the diagnosis of unexplained infertility. Sam Abdalla, Director of the Lister Fertility Clinic, will ask whether anyone is too difficult to treat with a low ovarian reserve, Professor Adam Balen, Chair of the British Fertility Society, will talk about PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and Tarek El-Toukhy will discuss treatment for older women.

There will also be some interesting discussions on donor treatment with Laura Witjens of the National Gamete Donation Trust and Kamal Ahuja of the London Women’s Clinic as well as a variety of talks on different aspects of fertility treatment overseas.  Complementary therapies such as acupuncture, hypnosis and massage will be covered in  a number of seminars. There will be four sessions for single women and lesbian couples and separate sessions on surrogacy. Male fertility issues will be covered by Professor Allan Pacey of Sheffield University, who will be talking on both the Saturday and Sunday so that no one needs to miss his sessions.

Fertility counsellors Jennie Hunt and Tracey Sainsbury will look at emotional issues and coping with treatment, along with Anya Sizer who is the support co-ordinator at London Women’s Clinic. The difficult issue of whether to try again after unsuccessful treatment will be covered by Tim Child who is Associate Professor and Subspecialist in Reproductive Medicine at the University of Oxford and and Honorary Consultant Gynaecologist at John Radcliffe Hospital. Finally, there will also be three sessions over the weekend looking at different aspects of adoption.

This year’s Fertility Show will be on November 7 and 8 and London’s Olympia and you can find the full seminar list here 

 

 

Considering donor treatment?

If you’re considering using an egg or sperm donor, you should check out the National Gamete Donation Trust’s new website at www.ngdt.co.uk. The Trust does a lot of work to encourage more people to think about donating, so there’s lots of information there aimed at donors – but there’s also a wealth of information about egg, sperm and embryo donation for recipients. Ranging through practical, ethical and legal aspects of treatment, it’s well worth a look before you make any decisions.

What’s more, it’s a really easy-to-navigate and attractive website – well done to all at the National Gamete Donation Trust!

Could you be a charity trustee?

images-1The National Gamete Donation Trust, a charity which supports egg, sperm and embryo donation, is looking for trustees. The Trust works with donors, recipients and clinics and helps to raise awareness of the need for gamete donation. It also manages the voluntary contact register which helps donor-conceived people born before 1991 to get in touch with their donors and half-siblings, and is currently working to bring the first national sperm bank to the UK.

The Trust is looking for enthusiastic people to join the Board of Trustees, and would be particularly interested in anyone with skills in human resources, business development and/or performance management, communications particularly with knowledge of social media, writing and editing or developing grant applications and business cases

Trustees will attend at least two annual meetings in central London, and will be expected to contribute actively to the work of the charity.  If you’d like to know more, or might be interested in applying, you can find out more at the National Gamete Donation Trust website – http://www.ngdt.co.uk/

The national sperm bank

So, we finally have a national sperm bank in the UK… Based at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, this will be the world’s first independent sperm bank and it aims to address the shortage of donor sperm in the UK.

Although there have been increases in the number of sperm donors in recent years, the demand has been outstripping the supply – and we’re importing more and more donated sperm from overseas, mainly Denmark and the USA.

The sperm bank is a collaboration between the National Gamete Donation Trust (NGDT) and Birmingham Women’s Hospital, and was set up with government funding. It is based within the NHS, and will eventually aim to deliver donor sperm to those who need it across the country.

Sue Avery, Director of Birmingham Women’s Fertility Centre, said: ‘There is currently a national shortage of sperm donors in the UK, especially in NHS clinics and particularly among some ethnic minorities. Patient numbers continue to rise and treating those who need donor sperm to build their families is a major problem. At present, some patients needing donor sperm are faced with few safe options and find themselves on waiting lists of up to five years or having to stop treatment altogether.’

Laura Witjens, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Gamete Donation Trust, says they want to change the way people think about sperm donation. ‘When people think of sperm donation they often only think about the physical act of producing sperm. Let’s face it that can be off-putting and detract from the real issues. We’re all set to change that outlook. Sperm donors are very special men who are doing something they and their families can be exceptionally proud of. These are men who are doing something life-changing for themselves and for others. It’s time to shout about how fantastic these guys are.’

If you are a man aged between 18 and 41 and you are interested in joining the ranks of these special men, you can text ‘Donor’ to 88802 for more information and visit www.veryspecialman.co.uk.

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This year’s Fertility Show

The programme is now published for this year’s Fertility Show, taking place at London’s Olympia on November 1 and 2. The range of seminars this year looks better than ever, with talks from many of the leading experts in the field; there’s Dr Allan Pacey from the University of Sheffield, chair of the British Fertility Society, on male problems, there’s Lord Robert Winston on unexplained infertility, Professor Lesley Regan on recurrent miscarriage, Zita West, Marilyn Glenville, Yacoub Khalaf and Tarek-El Toukhy from Guy’s, Sam Abdalla from the Lister, Dr Thomas Mathews from Bourn Hall, leading embryologist Rachel Cutting, Laura Witjens of the National Gamete Donation TrustGeetha Nargund from Create  and Olivia Montuschi of the Donor Conception Network and Geetha Nargund from Create  – oh, and me too!

The Fertility Show is run in association with Infertility Network UK. Seminars cost just one pound each once you’ve paid for entrance, and are an excellent opportunity to get a really good overview as well as a detailed understanding of specific fertility problems and treatments.  Tickets are now on sale here header_510_graphic

First ever national sperm bank for the UK

images-2Fabulous news from the National Gamete Donation Trust (NGDT) that they have been awarded funding from the Department of Health to set up the UK’s first ever National Sperm Bank in partnership with Birmingham Women’s Hospital.

The National Sperm Bank, to be based at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, with spokes across England, will be offering an NHS based service. There is currently a national shortage of sperm donors in the UK, especially in NHS clinics. Patient numbers continue to rise and treating those who need donor sperm is a major problem. At present, some patients needing donor sperm are faced with few options and find themselves on waiting lists, having to use unregulated providers or having to stop treatment altogether.

It is hoped that the introduction of the National Sperm Bank will provide safe, equitable and increased access for all. It is also anticipated that it will reduce the number of patients putting themselves at risk by using unregulated sperm donation services. Additionally, it is hoped that for the first time, those from ethnic minority backgrounds will be able to choose from a range of donors. The National Sperm Bank will launch in October 2014.

 

Why are we using Danish sperm donors?

p021bb47You may be interested in a programme I’ve been working on for BBC Radio Four about our increasing use of Danish sperm donors which will be broadcast tomorrow morning at 11 am.

The New Viking Invasion considers the rapid increase in imports of donor sperm from Denmark in recent years, and looks at why this has happened. It’s partly down to the efficient system the Danes offer, but also due to our system in the UK where fertility clinics don’t always have the time or resources to recruit their own donors. Only one in every twenty men who turns up offering to donate will be suitable, and the process of screening donors can be lengthy and costly. In Denmark, they have dedicated sperm banks which don’t do anything else.

Of course, some UK clinics do have donors – but you may not discover that if you don’t happen to go to the right place. Clinics don’t necessarily to want to refer their patients to other clinics – suggesting using a Danish donor is often easier and it means they keep the patient. One couple who feature in the programme had been told they could face a ten year wait for a UK donor – in fact, they later found one without a wait at another UK clinic.

We visited European Sperm Bank in Copenhagen for the programme and spoke to staff and to donors to find out why their system works so well, and spoke to many leading experts in the UK to discuss their views and concerns about our increasing use of Danish donors. You can hear the thoughts of Dr Allan Pacey of the British Fertility Society, Laura Witjens of the National Gamete Donation Trust, Ruth Wilde of BICA, Olivia Montuschi of the Donor Conception Network and Juliet Tizzard of the HFEA along with consultants Jane Stewart from Newcastle and Mark Hamilton from Aberdeen in the programme – as well as Danish donors and UK recipients.

“The New Viking Invasion” produced by Steve Urquhart will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Friday 27th June at 11am

 

Not a book to read on the train…

ltmd-bookWhen I got my copy of Letters to my Donor from the National Gamete Donation Trust, I was about to leave the house to go to a meeting  – so I put it in my bag to read on the tube. It’s a compilation of letters from parents of donor-conceived children to the donors who helped them to have their children. Most have never met the people whose generosity enabled them to conceive, and I was only a couple of letters in when I found myself sitting in a crowded tube train with tears streaming down my cheeks and getting some slightly odd looks from other passengers.

It’s an incredibly moving book – for the parents, the opportunity to thank someone for a gift which has transformed their lives is overwhelming and many begin by noting that words can’t begin to explain how grateful they are for the chance to have a family. There are letters from people who’ve used egg donors, sperm donors and one from a couple who used a surrogate. The letters show the delight that the parents take in their children and the happiness that the donor has brought into their lives.

There are also a few letters from donors themselves, explaining why they donated which may be an inspiration to anyone considering donating.

Of course this book will be of great interest to anyone who has some experience of donor conception, but I think it’s something anyone can learn from and gives a unique insight into the immense joy that a donor can bring to someone else’s life.

You can buy Letters to my Donor via the Gamete Donation Trust website at www.ngdt.co.uk where you will also find lots of useful information about gamete donation – but as I said, maybe not a book to read on the train…