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Whittington doc: ‘Change lives, become a sperm bank donor’

The hospital wants to set up a not-for-profit sperm bank - the first of its kind in London

24 March, 2017 — By Tom Foot

Whittington embryologist Erica Foster: ‘It’s a special type of person who’s going to do this. You can change people’s lives for relatively little effort’

WHITTINGTON Hospital has called on young men to make “the most selfless act that transforms lives” by donating to its sperm bank, the first in London.

The hospital in Magdala Avenue, Archway, wants to set up a not-for-profit sperm bank with money from sales going to the hospital.

Hospitals are not allowed to provide sperm for free on the NHS. Infertile couples are forced to buy from private clinics or find online suppliers, often abroad. But clinicians at the hospital say there is nothing to stop them cutting out the middle man.

Erica Foster, embryologist at the Whittington, hopes many couples will feel more comfortable buying from the NHS than from a “faceless” website or foreign donor bank.

She added: “Sperm donation is the most magical thing, the most selfless act that transforms lives. It’s a special type of person who’s going to do this. You can change people’s lives for relatively little effort. But in this country so few people do it. In this country it’s seen as a kind of weird and seedy thing to do. In Denmark, for example, it’s a kind of heroic thing to do. The amount of sperm coming out of that part of the world – what’s different? A lot of it is just down to attitude.”

Department for Health rules mean payment to sperm donors is prohibited, although clinics can offer £35 compensation for “expenses”. Whittington donors are expected to make at least 10 visits to the hospital.

Whittington Hospital

Ms Foster said: “What people need to know is that, because the NHS doesn’t provide this service, all the money is going out the door of this country or to a private clinic.

“If you look at sperm bank websites, they are so faceless. You literally add the sperm to your cart, like it’s Amazon.

“For me it’s about so much more than that – I want to create a different experience.”

The not-for-profit sperm bank will be run by Ms Foster and consultant gynaecologist Gidon Liebermann.

“What we wanted to do is develop an ethically-sourced sperm option for patients, where every penny is coming back into the NHS,” said Mr Liebermann.

“We wanted to take out the whole profiteering element of selling sperm.

“I’m not a hard left-winger who is anti-private practice. I do private work myself, but I think people should have a choice to stay within the NHS framework.”

He added: “The child can never have a claim over their [the donor’s] estate. And the donor can never find out who the recipient child is.”

Potential donors should contact donorbank.whittington@nhs.net

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