AN appeal has been launched to recruit sperm donors in Southampton to help childless couples desperate to start a family.

A dramatic fall in the number of men making donations over the last six months has left the sperm banks of one Southampton fertility clinic at serious risk of running out of stock.

Complete Fertility is being forced to turn away up to two couples a month – leaving them facing an endless wait for their dream of having a child to come true.

With a total of 25 male donors needed to meet the current demand but just 14 on the books, the clinic, based at the Princess Anne Hospital, urgently needs to find ten extra recruits.

The sudden dip has puzzled the clinic’s fertility experts, particularly as the number of women donating their eggs – which has traditionally been less popular – has soared in recent months. Fertility consultant Nick Brook said: “The sudden change is fascinating. What we are finding at Complete is that women are much more willing to give than men at the moment.

“I’m not really sure why this is happening. It could be because there are ten donations required, plus the screening, and most men cannot be bothered, or because there is no real financial gain, which has put many men off.”

Under current laws a man can be paid a maximum of £250 for becoming a donor, compared to £750 paid to women for egg donation.

But one donor can typically help six to seven infertile couples trying for a baby and the clinic is hoping that the knowledge that they are doing such a good deed for so many couples will inspire more men to sign up.

Mr Brook said: “A donor is doing a huge amount of good for couples, who through no fault of their own cannot have a baby.”

He added that a further benefit for donors would be that they would be getting a free fertility assessment as part of the process.

Renowned for its facilities the clinic is the first port of call for other fertility centres across the UK, who are in need of donations, but with supplies so low, Complete Fertility is refusing any requests as it simply doesn’t have enough to meet its own demand. Mr Brook said: “We are having to turn away one to two couples a month.

“Some couples are now even getting sperm from Europe and America and bringing it back for their treatment.”

For every ten men hoping to become a donor, only two or three will meet the standards required, so the clinic is urging as many men as possible to step up and help change the lives of those who are desperate to start a family.

Anyone interested in becoming a donor should call Complete Fertility on 023 8079 8407.

The Process

AFTER completing a questionnaire potential donors will be called for a first appointment, during which they are asked to produce a semen sample for analysis and undergo blood and urine tests to check for transmittable disease. The clinic will reimburse £35 for each visit.

If a donor is suitable, a second appointment is booked with a doctor a week later and the first donation is made. The clinic recommends 15 samples but a donor is limited to donating their sperm to ten families.

Donors may wish to choose specifically who they want to donate their sperm to, e.g. couples, single women or lesbians.

All donations are held in quarantine for six months, when the donor will be invited back for a last appointment that will include a blood and urine test. If all is clear then the sperm can be used.

The Law

DONORS are not legally responsible for any child born as a result of their donation.

Their name does not appear on the child’s birth certificate and they have no legal requirement to pay maintenance payments.

Since April 2005 children have the right to know the identity of the donor once they reach 18 but contact must be made via the Human Fertilisations and Embryology Authority and the process is
tightly legislated.

However, donors in the future could have the right to play a stronger role in the upbringing of their children following a landmark High Court case.

Men could have regular contact with their offspring even though they are not bringing them up, following a dispute over parental rights between three gay and lesbian civil partner couples.

The ruling by the Family Division allows fathers to have a say in how their child should be raised without having a relationship with the child’s mother.

The case was brought by a gay sperm donor who previously knew one half of a lesbian couple, who are now raising his child.