Clinics fear sperm shortage as anonymity ends
NEW rules governing sperm donations could lead to a shortage of suitable sperm for fertility clinics across Scotland.
Since April last year, British sperm donors have been denied the right to anonymity, and on Friday regulations came into force which mean foreign donors must also register their details before their sperm can be used in this country.
Specialists fear that the change will discourage even more donors from volunteering their services, with all of Britain's 93 fertility clinics set to suffer because of rules which allow donor-created children to seek out their natural fathers when they reach the age of 18.
A spokesman for the private London Fertility Centre said the shortage of sperm was at crisis level.
"London Fertility Centre does not consider infertile couples should have to travel overseas for a fertility service which should be available in the UK, whether it relates to donor sperm, eggs or embryos."
Scottish fertility clinics are likely to be among the hardest hit, as they have already suffered from a catastrophic loss of donors - at one point in 2006, there was just one registered sperm donor for the whole of Scotland.
In 2000, there were 325 registered donors in the UK, but this number fell to 255 in 2003 before reaching its lowest figure ever of 169 last year.
An advertising campaign has seen the number of Scottish-based donors increase to double figures, but clinics are still dependent on sources from outside Scotland.
The Human Fertility and Embryology Authority, which regulates egg and sperm donations, has admitted that a "postcode lottery" might be involved in the patchy availability of sperm to clinics.
"Some clinics in Manchester, Northampton, Bristol, London and Oxford are doing exceptionally well," said a spokesman.
"There is a supply problem but it is not uniform. We don't know why some areas are successfully recruiting donors and others are not. There is a postcode lottery, as with access to infertility treatment."
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