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UK opens National Sperm Bank amid donor shortage

world Updated: Oct 31, 2014 11:49 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Sperm bank

Described as the ‘world’s first national sperm bank’, Britain’s health officials on Thursday launched a new facility in Birmingham that seeks to tackle a shortage of sperm donors, particularly from Indian and other ethnic minority communities.

At present, Britain is dependent on importing sperm from the United States and Denmark due to a lack of UK-based donors. The new facility based in the Birmingham’s Women’s Hospital is expected to ‘change the face’ of sperm donation in Britain.

One of the objectives is to encourage more men from Indian and other ethnic community backgrounds to donate sperm as most donors in the UK are currently white.

Sue Avery, Director of the Birmingham Women’s Fertility Centre, said: “There is currently a national shortage of sperm donors in the UK, especially in National Health Service clinics and particularly among some ethnic minorities”.

She added: “Not only is the National Sperm Bank going to revolutionise access to donor sperm in this country, its founders are also on a mission to change the face of sperm donation…Patient numbers continue to rise and treating those who need donor sperm to build their families is a major problem”.

The National Gamete Donation Trust (NGDT), which is the national organisation for sperm, egg and embryo donation, and is a partner of the new project, said that for the first time, the bank will enable those from ethnic minority backgrounds to choose from a range of culturally matched donors.

Laura Witjens, CEO NGDT, said: “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”.

She added: “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.”