About the donors
Sperm donors are men aged between 18 and 41 with a relatively high sperm count. Each donor is carefully selected and has to undergo health screening, which includes obtaining a personal and family medical history. All reasonable steps are taken to prevent passing-on of serious genetic disorders. In most situations, this is served by taking a thorough family history. In this respect, blood tests are also carried out for chromosome patterns and for carrier status for cystic fibrosis.
All donors also have blood tests to check for infections such as Hepatitis B and C, and another for HIV, the virus that can lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Due to the need to exclude HIV infection, all donor semen samples are deep-frozen for a quarantine period of at least 6 months before release for treatment, after the donors have had a repeat negative blood test. This means that you are protected with almost certainty from such infection.
Many patients ask if there is any chance of suffering from any other sexually transmitted infection following donor insemination. Although no guarantee can be given, the chance of this happening is very small. Similarly, despite all reasonable efforts made to exclude the possibility of heritable conditions, DI treatment does not protect the baby from having some form of congenital defects. The risk of this developing is no greater than if donor sperm were not used. It should also be borne in mind that every pregnancy carries some risks, regardless of whether donor sperm is used or not.
All sperm donors are informed of the possibility that a child born disabled as a result of a donor’s failure to disclose defects, about which he knew or ought to have known, may be liable to damages in a court of law.
We aim to have a wide range of donors to match physical characteristics as closely as possible with the recipient. These characteristics include skin colour, eye colour, hair colour and body build. Apart from physical characteristics, blood type and cytomegalovirus status are also taken into consideration. However, this matching requires a large and constant source of donors and it may, therefore, be difficult to provide a perfect match.
The number of families resulting from the use of sperm of each donor is restricted by law to no more than 10. Once this number is reached, the donor sperm will no longer be available for use for couples outside of these families. This is largely to reduce the likelihood of marriage between two people conceived by the same donor. As donors are allowed to be responsible for siblings within one family unit, it is advisable for couples wishing to have further pregnancies by DI after a successful outcome, and who would prefer to use the same donor, to let the Fertility Centre know of their interest (as soon as possible once the first pregnancy is well established) so that sperm may be reserved for future use.
It should be borne in mind that donors are allowed to withdraw or vary their consent regarding the use of their sperm. This can be done at any time before the insemination procedure (in the case of IUI treatment) or before embryo transfer (in the case of IVF treatment). Couples or women who have reserved sperm in storage will no longer be able to use the designated sperm once the consent of the donor has been withdrawn. These couples will be offered sperm from another donor.
There is also a statutory maximum storage period of 10 years, after which the stored sperm must be destroyed. Donors may also stipulate any period of storage up to a maximum of 10 years. In addition, the storage facility could fail. For these reasons, no guarantee could be given to provide full siblings.