Australian couples desperate to have a baby with the help of a sperm donor are being turned away because of a lack of donors.
Fertility specialist Dr David Wilkinson, of City Fertility Centre, said the number of sperm donors in Australia was very low.
“We have a severe shortage of sperm donors across the nation, yet the number of couples requesting a sperm donor is on the increase,” Dr Wilkinson said.
The steadily increasing demand is resulting from scientific advances in recent years now allowing IVF clinics to assist more patients, combined with a greater acceptance in society regarding the use of donor sperm.
Dr Wilkinson said infertility affected 15 per cent of the childbearing population and male infertility was responsible for about 20 per cent of these cases.
“Despite using high levels of reproductive technology, some males still do not produce any sperm and are not able to achieve a pregnancy with their partner,” he said.
Male infertility has many causes, including genetic, infectious, and physical damage.
There are only two choices for a couple if they wish to have a child once male sterility has been diagnosed: adoption or donor insemination (using donor sperm). Adoption in Australia is difficult because very few children are available. Some couples, of course, choose to remain childless.
In an effort to increase the number of sperm donors, City Fertility Centre has launched a dedicated website, www.spermdonorsaustralia.com.au, to educate potential candidates.
“When you see a couple who have conceived with the help of donor sperm, you realise how such a relatively simple act of kindness can transform someone’s life forever,” Dr Wilkinson said.
“The joy of watching parents with a newborn baby after so many years of heartache is priceless – it is one of the most enjoyable parts of my job.”
There are many considerations for potential donors to agree to before proceeding. Perhaps the most significant factor is that while the donor has no legal responsibilities or rights to the child, he must be willing for his identity to be disclosed when the child turns 18 should he or she request it.
While the Human Tissue Act 1982 prohibits payment to sperm donors in Australia, they are able to be compensated for any expenses they incur, which can be up to $3000 if the maximum 10 samples are provided.