Fertility and pregnancy

Drive to boost egg and sperm donation

Drive to boost egg and sperm donation Should be like giving blood, says fertility watchdog

Donating eggs and sperm should be regarded in the same way as organ donation or giving blood, the head of the fertility watchdog said.

Professor Lisa Jardine, chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HEFA), said more needs to be done to encourage people to come forward as egg and sperm donors and also to improve the care they receive at fertility clinics.

There is evidence to suggest that some fertility clinics could improve the way donors are treated.

Professor Jardine said: "We have some evidence, somewhat anecdotal, that donors are not particularly welcomed at clinics.

"Clinics are more and more busy, donors are a kind of side issue in the clinic but they have to be dealt with in the clinic.

"We've heard their phone calls are not returned, they don't even get a cup of tea."

Her comments were made as HEFAs new rules on donor compensation come into force, designed to ensure that donors are "properly valued for their commitment."

Men are now paid £35 for each visit to a fertility clinic to donate sperm while women are paid £750 per cycle of donation.

The fertility watchdog is also putting together a national group of experts whose task will be to come up with new ways to raise awareness, encourage donors to come forward and promote good practise at fertility clinics.

HEFA figures show there were 1258 new egg donors registered in 2010 compared with 480 sperm donors. More than half of eggs donated were from women who were already undergoing IVF treatment.

Professor Jardine said: "We developed our new donor compensation policy to make donors feel more valued than they currently do and to discourage them from dropping out. 

But we know from carrying out our public consultation last year that it will take a range of measures to have a significant impact on donation in the UK.

"That's why we are taking this step beyond our normal remit to address issues of awareness, donor retention and information provision. 

"We know we can’t do this alone so we are using our unique position as the national regulator to bring together a wide range of expertise to gather valuable knowledge that will help us build a better environment for donation and particularly for future donor-conceived people."

This article was published on Thu 5 April 2012

Image © ktsdesign - Fotolia.com

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