The UK’s National Gamete Donation Trust (NGDT), in partnership with Birmingham Women’s Hospital, has been awarded Department of Health funding to provide a National Sperm Bank.
The NGDT is the UK’s national body running the National Gamete Donation Services, supporting sperm, egg and embryo donors.
The new National Sperm Bank – which is believed to be the first in the world – will be based at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, but will be of use to other fertility centers across England. According to a spokesperson, it will aim to offer a ‘modern, NHS based, fully-integrated donor recruitment, screening and banking center.
The launch of the bank, and the allocated government funding, comes following a shortage of sperm donors in the UK – particularly in NHS clinics.
This shortage has come about due to an increase in the number of women seeking fertility treatment.
In 2011, more than 2% of all the babies born in the UK had been conceived through IVF treatment, while the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, in its most recently published data, reported a ‘significant increase’ in same-sex female couples seeking IVF and direct implant treatment between 2010-2011.
The shortage is also believed to have come about due to a 2005 change in the law that now means children conceived through sperm and egg donation are allowed to find out information on the identity of their biological parents after they reach the age of 18. This has deterred some potential donors.
‘Essentially, the National Sperm Bank will increase the number of donor samples available for UK licensed clinics, both NHS and private,’ said Charles Lister, NGDT Chair of Trustees, ‘meaning that many more patients can be treated at a clinic of their choice, in a safe and secure manner, at the time when their treatment is needed.’
The National Sperm Bank is due to be launched in October 2014.