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Monday, June 15, 1998 Published at 17:17 GMT 18:17 UK


Push for sperm and egg donors

Egg and sperm donors are in short supply

A new independent organisation is to be established to promote egg and sperm donation to childless couples.

At present there is a chronic shortage of people willing to become donors. Some would-be parents have become so desperate that they have placed advertisements in papers.

The new group is the brainchild of the Fertility Nurses Forum, a sub-group of the Royal College of Nursing.

Other health professionals, scientists and patient groups have also been consulted.

The aim of the new group, to be launched later this year, is to promote awareness of egg and sperm donation. It will also put volunteers in touch with registered donor clinics.

Better ways

A RCN spokeswoman said: "We believe that if we can raise awareness it will really encourage people to come forward as donors.

"If people want to advertise in newspapers that is up to them, but we believe that there are better ways to get donors. Advertising can be stressful, the success rate is low and it is very hit and miss.

"The group will not just target potential donors to tell them about what is involved, but also their families. It will also hope to raise awareness among health professionals.

"It is not widely understood what is needed, and what the problems are, but also what can be got out of it - it can be very satisfying to help somebody else have a child."

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The project was condemned by Dr Adrian Rogers, director of the Conservative Family Institute.

'Very irresponsible'

Dr Rogers said: "Egg and sperm donation is a very irresponsible thing to do, it is disadvantaging a child deliberately. A child has a right to be brought up by the people who genetically produced it - they understand the child, and the child understands them.

"People should not be allowed to give eggs and sperm as if they are just little bits of tissue that carry no responsibility."

Tight regulation

In vitro fertilisation is regulated in the UK by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

Director of Communications Barney Wyld said: "There is a shortage of both egg and sperm donors in this country and we think it is important to raise awareness of the need to help infertile couples.

"There are people who oppose donation, but they are in a minority. The law allows egg and sperm donation, and clinics are tightly regulated."

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