Donating sperm should be like giving blood, watchdog saysMonday, April 16th, 2012
Egg and sperm donation should be as obvious as giving blood, the UK’s fertility watchdog has said.
The comments come after the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) tripled the payment to women donating their eggs from £250 to £750 per cycle of donation. The remarks ignore the concerns of thousands of donor-offspring, now in adulthood, who are demanding their rights, and often oppose egg and sperm donations altogether as an attack on the natural ties.
HEFA chair, Lisa Jardine, said clinics should improve their, "customer service," amid fears male donors are being made to feel neglected or unimportant, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Launching a new drive to raise the public awareness of donation, Ms Jardine said she wanted egg donation to become, "as obvious as blood donation.” Large numbers of men express an interest in donating to IVF clinics only to find their phone calls are not returned, their names are spelt wrong on forms or they are made to feel unwelcome in waiting rooms, she said.
One solution being considered by the HFEA is to set up, "centres of excellence," where sperm and eggs are collected, rather than asking donors to attend clinics where the recipients are viewed by staff as the main priority. She said, "We think some patients in centres are not being encouraged that they might donate.
"We have some evidence, somewhat anecdotal, that donors are not particularly welcomed at clinics. Clinics are more and more busy and donors are [treated as] a sort of side issue."
Women going through treatment, who will most likely produce more eggs than they need for themselves, should be encouraged to donate them to others, she added. HFEA figures show there were 480 new sperm donors registered in 2010, alongside 1,258 egg donors, compared with 323 sperm donors and 1,241 egg donors in 2000.
In 2009, 1,084 children were born from donor sperm and 593 from donor eggs. Donor embryos accounted for a further 79 children.
Laura Witjens, Chair of the National Gamete Donation Trust, said raising awareness about sperm and egg donation could make it a subject people, "talk about in the pub," and end the stigma around male donors. She said, "Egg donors, rightly or wrongly, are still seen as very good people; sperm donors are seen sometimes as a dirty man."
Previously, Ms Jardine suggested that the longstanding ban on selling sperm and eggs should be reconsidered to address a shortage of donors. In 2009, she said payments to donors might reduce the number of couples travelling abroad for fertility treatment.
New rules brought in 2005, which mean that the children of sperm and egg donors can trace their donor parents, and strict rules against payments, have meant that fewer people are now donating their sperm and eggs for fertility treatment services.
The new rules were prompted by a finding by the British High Court that anonymous sperm and egg donations breached the human rights of the children conceived through donor gametes. The case was taken by Dr Joanna Rose, herself conceived through donor sperm.
by Tom O'Gorman