UK's first national sperm bank opens

The project will start in Birmingham before being rolled out nationwide. Credit: PA

The UK's first national sperm bank opened its doors today in a bid to combat the shortage of donors in this country.

A lack of UK-based donors has led to an increase in the use of imported sperm, with America and Denmark being the biggest suppliers.

But the project, which will start in Birmingham before being rolled out nationwide, hopes to "change the face" of sperm donation in Britain.

The clinic also hopes to encourage more men from ethnic backgrounds to give sperm as most donors in the UK are currently white.

Sue Avery, Director of the Birmingham Women’s Fertility Centre, said: "There is currently a national shortage of sperm donors in the UK, especially in NHS clinics and particularly among some ethnic minorities.

"Patient numbers continue to rise and treating those who need donor sperm to build their families is a major problem.

"At present, some patients needing donor sperm are faced with few safeoptions and find themselves on waiting lists of up to five years or having to stop treatment altogether."

Data shows a 10th of IVF cycles are dependent on donated sperm or eggs.

A third of procedures were for same-sex couples or single women.

But it is also needed by men who have had cancer treatment or those who cannot produce sperm for genetic reasons.

Laura Witjens, CEO of the National Gamete Donor Trust who are collaborating on the project, said: "When people think of sperm donation they often only think about the physical act of producing sperm.

"Let’s face it that can be off-putting and detract from the real issues. We’re all set to change that outlook.

"Sperm donors are very special men who are doing something they and their families can be exceptionally proud of. These are men who are doing something life-changing for themselves and for others. It's time to shout about how fantastic these guys are."

Men aged between 18 and 41 who are interested in donating sperm can text ‘Donor’ to 88802 or visit veryspecialman.co.uk for more details.