As trailed yesterday in my post about the award of a Department of Health grant to DC Network, here is the great news of the other successful bid in our sector.
The National Gamete Donation Trust, led by the entrepreneurial Laura Witjens, in partnership with one of the best NHS based sperm recruitment services in the country at Birmingham Women’s Hospital, have been given money to set up a national sperm bank intended to meet donor sperm requirements across the UK.
There is currently a national shortage of sperm donors in the UK, particularly in NHS clinics where the necessary screening and interviewing of donors prior to taking them on is not funded. Private clinics and sperm banks that recruit sperm donors tend to either keep all the sperm for their own patients, or will only sell on the lower grades of sperm, thus making them less desirable. As a result many clinics prefer to refer their patients needing sperm donation to Danish or US based sites where choice may be great but prices are very high as well.
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 people putting themselves art risk by using unregulated sperm donation services. Additionally, and very importantly, for the very first time those from minority ethnic backgrounds will be able to choose from a range of appropriate donors.
As Charles Lister, Chair of NGDT Trustees explains, “Essentially, the National Sperm Bank will increase the number of donor samples available for UK licensed clinics, both NHS and private, meaning that many more patients can be treated at the clinic of their choice, in a safe and secure manner, at the time when their treatment is needed.”
The National Sperm Bank will launch in October 2014. It’s brilliant news. Well done NGDT and Birmingham Women’s Hospital.