“Gifting fertility treatment in exchange for the donation of high-quality sperm was suggested by a patient and we thought it was a wonderful idea,” explains Martyn Blayney, Head of Science at Bourn Hall about an innovative way that sperm and egg donors are being recruited.
For many years, Bourn Hall has offered free IVF treatment to couples or individuals undergoing treatment who are prepared to sperm or egg share and altruistic donors have been reimbursed for expenses in line with Government guidelines.
However, following patient feedback the clinic has recently introduced a new programme,
Martyn explains: “We talked to one of our patients about sperm donation after his successful IVF treatment.
“His sperm sample was of particularly high-quality thereby making him an excellent candidate. When we discussed how to thank him, he mentioned a family friend who needed, but couldn’t afford IVF. He told us ‘I really want to do this, we’re sorted, our family is complete thanks to Bourn Hall but I’d like be able to gift IVF to my friend.”
The ‘IVF gifting’ programme, where sperm or egg donors can nominate a friend or family member to receive a standard IVF cycle free of charge, is going well and the couple receiving treatment are treated in the same way as other patients. (note: it is treatment that is gifted not the sperm or eggs which will be ‘banked’ for treatment of other patients.)
In the video opposite, Martyn is seen in the embryology lab at Bourn Hall, where he explains the process involved in sperm donation and the importance of testing.
Sperm and egg sharing and gifting have been introduced to ensure that Bourn Hall does not suffer from the national shortage and has well-stocked “banks” with a diversity of donors.
“Strict regulations surround the collection and use of donor gametes in HFEA licensed centres, therefore, our patients are assured that the donors are comprehensively screened,” he added.
Martyn says: “As well as performing a wide-ranging set of tests for infectious and sexually transmitted diseases we look at the family medical history of donors. In addition, sperm is quarantined for six months before retesting and release for treatment, making sperm from a clinic a far safer and better option than fresh sperm from a donor found via the Internet.”
(footage kindly provided by Kit Bradshaw & Rosalind Church)
There is also important documentation to ensure the legal rights of parents which a licensed clinic, like Bourn Hall, will ensure is in place.
Sperm donation is confidential, but donors are not anonymous. Donor sperm recipients are entitled to receive non-identifying information. Details of the donor are available on request to a resulting child when he or she turns 18.
The donor has no legal, financial or moral obligation to the child.
”There is a national shortage of donated sperm, as well as donated eggs, so we would encourage everyone to consider donation if they are in a position to do so,” Martyn added.