Dr Lucy Richardson BSc PhD
Last night Channel 4 aired ‘4 Men 175 Babies: The UK’s Super Sperm Donors’ – this worrying documentary highlighted the growing phenomenon of women looking to conceive from unregulated sperm donation. ‘I want to reproduce with as many women as possible’ states one of the donors, who is happy to provide a freshly produced semen sample for free, who sees the process as ‘…just what you’ve been practising your whole life for’. This process takes an even darker turn where some donors will recommend using ‘natural insemination’ for a higher success rate.
Herts and Essex Fertility Centre Sperm Bank
Herts and Essex Fertility Centre have been helping both couples and single women conceive using sperm donation for many years and to this end, we have established an in-house bank of sperm donors, who satisfy the UK medical and legal guidelines to provide safe and regulated treatment for those requiring treatment using a sperm donor.
Sperm Donors Screening
HEFC sperm donors are thoroughly medically screened both before and after completion of their donations. This enables the clinic to guarantee that the sperm used is free from transmissible disease to safeguard the women receiving sperm and any children conceived as a result of the sperm donation. Our donors must also provide a detailed medical history to include their family history for further safeguarding. Sperm quality is also an important predictor of pregnancy, which is why sperm donors are all thoroughly assessed according to the latest World Health Organisation guidelines for normal sperm parameters. In addition, our donors also benefit from HBA testing, an important test in determining sperm maturity (link to HBA blog).
Counselling & Siblings opportunity
All HEFC sperm donors must attend counselling ahead of acceptance onto our donor programme. This enables all of our donors to be fully informed about the implications of donation and importantly, the impact of donor non-anonymity – according to UK law, all sperm donors must consent to the release of identifying information to any child conceived as a result of donation once the child reaches the age of 18. The donor can also consent to the creation of up to ten families and at HEFC we ensure that successful recipients of our sperm donors have the option of purchasing sibling stock to extend their families further in the future.
What about legal parentage for women in same-sex relationships?
HEFC will ensure that legal binding consent forms are completed to enable both partners within a same-sex relationship, irrespective of marital status, to be legal parents of their donor-conceived child.
No such regulations exist to protect same-sex couples using a sperm donor sourced outside of an HFEA regulated clinic.
In this scenario, the sperm donor may be considered the child’s legal father, which means he will have all of the rights and responsibilities associated with being a father. Importantly this means that the donor may be pursued for a financial contribution towards the child’s upbringing.
However, at HEFC, the sperm donor himself is also required to complete legally binding consent forms to enable him to be regarded purely as a donor and therefore holds no legal or financial responsibilities for any children conceived through his donation.
At HEFC, we provide a bespoke matching service to ensure that the donor meets each couple or individual’s specific needs, with the guarantee that the selected donor will have met all of our stringent screening requirements.