The UK’s national sperm bank was set up a year ago to counter a serious shortage in sperm donors in the UK. Demand has shot up from same-sex couples and older women wanting children. In the 2013 research, the HFEA found imported sperm has steadily increased year-on-year to meet the rise in demand and formed almost a third of new registrations, mostly from the USA, followed by Denmark.
Donors receive just £35 per session but Witjens said better advertising was key, not giving donors more money: “We might get more donors if we paid £50 or £100 per donation. But money corrupts. If you feel you can make £200 a week for four months, you might hide things about your health.”
Although there are only nine donors on the books on the UK bank’s first anniversary, Witjens said that should be put in perspective. “If we had nine donors, we could technically create 90 families, who otherwise would be forced to go elsewhere. I want to get to a stage where there is an abundance of donors, so no woman ever feels she has to go on Gumtree to get sperm. We can get there, we can have enough in three to five years. We just need the push”.