National Sperm Bank in the news

DownloadedFile-17It was interesting to see the news coverage today following an article in The Guardian yesterday headlined ‘UK sperm bank has just nine registered donors, boss reveals’.  Some of you may remember that a couple of months ago The Telegraph was “revealing” that the National Sperm Bank had just five donors. In fact, that story and the two articles in The Telegraph used quotes and figures from Banking on Birmingham a BBC Radio 4 documentary I’d made with producer Steve Urquhart which had been broadcast a few days earlier – where the fact that only five donors had been recruited was discussed and put into perspective.

Today’s story was very much focused on the “just” nine donors recruited by the National Sperm Bank but in fact that’s almost double the number of donors in June which would suggest that recruitment is on an upward trend. Recruiting donors is not easy – many men who initially express an interest are put off when they discover the commitment involved and many others who would like to donate are not suitable – on average, just one in every 20 men who applies to donate will be able to as the sperm has to be very high quality and they must also get through screening tests to ensure they do not risk passing on any genetically inherited diseases or sexually transmitted infections.

To learn just weeks after we thought the National Sperm Bank had five donors that it actually has nine can only be a positive step forward; let’s hope that the coverage today will encourage many more men in the Birmingham area to come forward. But do bear in mind that every time the National Sperm Bank is in the news, it doesn’t just lead to more donors in Birmingham but to more donors across the UK – so it’s good for other banks too.

You can find out more about the National Sperm Bank here and more about donating in general here 

Birmingham – UK sperm capital?

images-2For the last six months or so, I’ve been following the progress of the UK’s first national sperm bank for a BBC Radio Four documentary.

Located in Birmingham’s Women’s Hospital, the new bank was founded last year following a grant from the Department of Health and aims to eventually end the reliance on imports of donor sperm from the USA and Denmark.

Recruiting and retaining sperm donors isn’t easy and many clinics here in the UK do suggest that patients use imported sperm as they don’t have the time or resources to set up their own sperm banks. The National Sperm Bank aims to reverse that trend, and hopes that Birmingham will prove itself to be the ideal location.

If you’re interested in hearing the documentary, it will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Monday 22 June at 11am – you can read more about it here and  find details here on the BBC website and will be able to listen again there if you miss it.

If you are interested in donating, you can find the National Sperm Bank website here www.veryspecialman.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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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.