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An urgent call out has been issued to sperm donors as services finally reopen following a two year closure during the pandemic.
Donors are urgently needed to help women and couples wanting to start a family after restrictions left stocks “depleted”.
Services in Birmingham were halted due to Covid-19 but have resumed this month.
Black and Asian donors are being particularly encouraged to donate at Birmingham Women’s Hospital if they are able to.
Dr Jackson Kirkman-Brown, the science lead at Birmingham Women’s Fertility Centre, said they are now in “open season” for donations.
He said: “During the pandemic because of how we managed patient risk we haven’t been recruiting donors, so we’re actually this month relaunching all our donor recruitment services, both for sperm donors and egg donors.
“There are a few people wanting to screen, but we’re in open season for donations.
“It’s called a sperm bank because it has reserves, those are now very depleted. It’s an urgent call for action to get that stock back up.”
Most couples want to be able to choose between a few donors.
Written statements expressing their reasons for donation, alongside a basic description of the donor’s appearance, are given alongside each ‘profile’.
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Patients have been able to come in to choose sperm throughout the pandemic, but now those stocks are “very depleted”, leaving them with little option.
“We need to recruit more donors so that patients have that choice and ability to pick someone that’s a match,” Dr Kirkman-Brown added.
“In communities where it’s less discussed, they might not tell people they need a donor.
“You may think that ‘I don’t know anyone of my race that needs a donor’.
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“I can promise and guarantee that, and they will want somebody of that race, they may just not want to shout from the rooftops that they need it.
Because of the city’s ethnic diversity, there is a particular “call to action for Birmingham” amid a nationwide shortage beyond caucasian donors, Dr Kirkman-Brown said.
UK patients wanting sperm from ‘black donors’, for example, can only find samples in Birmingham at the moment, he explained.
He said: “Birmingham has quite a unique ethnic mix, and so we have patients across all the ethnicities represented in the city who are needing sperm donors and egg donors.
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“Many of those patients aren’t patients who could just go somewhere else and get a donor.
“For example at the moment the only black donors that were available in the UK are actually donors that we’ve got – equally for some of our Asian populations.
“There is a general shortage beyond caucasian of donors in the UK.
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“We need those donors for our patients, but also we’re the only people who could solve it for any other patients, so it really is a Birmingham call to action.”
The first screening appointments will be carried out within the first few weeks, with donors “knowing their answer” by the end of that month.
Sperm can be used to create up to 10 families with the donation, with people needing to come to the clinic for 10 separate visits.
Donors will be given a total of £35 per visit, mainly to cover expenses for travel and the inconvenience of attending appointments.
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Children created by donations cannot ask for the details of the donor until they reach the age of 18.
However the donor cannot decide they wish to know the child.
In a final bid to urge donors to come forward, Dr Kirkman-Brown added: “We would say that donor is a remarkable person who is willing to do this altruistic act to help other people who want to have a family.”
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