British men urged to donate sperm and ‘kick foreign banks out of business’
Laura Witjens, chief executive of Britain’s national sperm bank, issued an appeal after just nine men came forward in its maiden 12 months
- 17:17, 1 SEP 2015
The boss of Britain’s national sperm bank is appealing for more donors after revealing just nine men have signed up during its first year.
Chief executive Laura Witjens believes it may take around five years before the centre has enough donors to cope with rising demand.
Many British couples wanting children are currently being forced to import sperm from countries like America and Denmark.
Ms Witjens believes a change in the way the bank is advertised could help encourage donors to come forward.
She said: “If I advertised saying ‘Men, prove your worth, show me how good you are’, then I would get hundreds of donors.
“That’s the way the Danish do it. They proudly say, this is the Viking invasion, exports from Denmark are beer, Lego and sperm. It’s a source of pride.
“We want to print hundreds of thousands of leaflets.
“We can certainly envisage a billboard in the future, though the posters need to be in places where people can donate to a clinic, otherwise they can’t act.”
Ms Witjens says she is also keen to “kick the foreign banks out of business”.
She says the British system is much kinder to children conceived from donated sperm, as each donor can only create a maximum of 10 children.
She added: “We can stop people having to go to Denmark where donors might have 150-200 offspring.
“Then it’s always a very real fear for the donor-conceived, running into a half-brother or sister.”
The national sperm bank was set up one year ago as a partnership between the National Gamete Donation Trust and Birmingham Women’s Hospital.
It was funded with a one-off Department of Health grant of 77,000 but will now be financially self sufficient.
Donors are paid 35 for gifting sperm while each sample is sold for 400.
This fee is paid by the NHS if couples meet the guidelines for free treatment.
Ms Witjens said although hundreds of men want to donate only a small number make it through the screenings.
She said: “If 100 guys enquire, 10 will come through for screenings and maybe one becomes a donor. It takes hundreds of guys.
“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.
“We get asked for 6ft tall donors, when the average height is 5ft 7in in Britain, so you are effectively ruling out 90% of the donors.
“And they all want doctors, barristers, but the reality is the majority of those professionals have not got time. So you actually get young guys with flexible jobs.”
Watch sperm donor explain why he decided to sign up: