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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 January, 2004, 01:11 GMT
Buying sperm over the internet
A growing number of women are buying sperm over the net
Jamie Saphier and her partner Sarah Watkinson paid 1,500 for sperm from the website ManNotIncluded.com.

The couple turned to the internet after their GP refused to help them conceive.

With a few clicks of a mouse, the women were able to pick and choose their ideal sperm donor right down to his eye colour, height, education and social background.

ManNotIncluded.com then dispatched the donation to their home, where Jamie was able to inseminate herself and allow nature to take its course.

The website, which operates from London, says it has stringent checks in place to ensure the donated sperm is healthy and disease free.

The men banned from donating
ManNotIncluded.com does not accept sperm donations from men who:
Have injected illegal drugs
Have been diagnosed with a STI in the past year
Have engaged in sex for money
Have are HIV positive
Have slept with someone suspected of having a STI or HIV
Have slept with "more than a certain number of sexual partners in a 12 month period"
Have haemophilia
It bans men who have injected illegal drugs or engaged in prostitution from donating.

Others on its blacklist include those who have tested positive for a sexually transmitted infection (STI) during the previous 12 months and those who are HIV positive.

Men who have had sex with someone they suspect had a STI or those deemed to have had too many sexual partners in the past year are also banned.

Prospective donors, who are paid around 40 per donation, undergo what the company calls rigorous fertility and blood tests when they sign up. These checks are carried out every three months.

Their sperm is tested before it is dispatched to customers. It is screened for HIV, hepatitis and the full range of STIs.

The website can also carry out DNA checks on the sperm on request.

"We use accredited laboratories in London's Harley Street to carry out these tests," says John Gonzales, the website's founder.

"Safety is extremely important to us. We realise we are dealing with people's lives. We are bringing babies into this world."

Safety concerns

However, the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority, which regulates fertility services in the UK, has warned women against using ManNotIncluded.com

The website does not have a license from the HFEA - but under the law as it stands it does not need one. The donation of fresh sperm is not covered by the 1990 Human Fertilisation & Embryology Act.

Women wishing to use donated sperm are advised to do so through an HFEA licensed clinic
Suzi Leather, HFEA
The HFEA says this means it cannot guarantee that the sperm sold through ManNotIncluded.com is safe.

"The HFEA cannot guarantee good laboratory practices and safe testing of donated sperm from unlicensed donation services," says Suzi Leather, its chairwoman.

"We would strongly advise women using donated sperm to ensure it has been adequately screened to standards recommended in professional guidelines.

"Women wishing to use donated sperm are advised to do so through an HFEA licensed clinic where donated sperm is thoroughly tested and legal parentage is set down in law."

Such warnings appear to be falling on deaf ears.

According to Mr Gonzales, ManNotIncluded.com has already helped three women to give birth since it was set up 18 months ago. Another 30 women are pregnant.

The website is primarily targeted at lesbians. That's not to say it doesn't have heterosexual customers. The first couple to have a baby using sperm bought through the website were heterosexual.

'Filling a gap'

Mr Gonzales says he set up the website to fill a gap in the market and to give women an alternative to advertising in magazines for sperm donors.

He also aimed to help those women who had been turned away from IVF clinics because they are not in a relationship with a man.

Under the 1990 Act, clinics are required to take account of the "need of the child for a father" before allowing women to have fertility treatment.

This has led to some women and some lesbian couples being denied treatment.

This week, the HFEA appeared to try to plug the apparent gap in the market by calling for the law to be changed.

"I don't think single and lesbian women should be excluded," Ms Leather said.

The announcement was timely. As Ms Leather was addressing journalists in London, a Lesbian couple in Merseyside were celebrating the arrival of their baby son.

Internet sperm mum gives birth
22 Jan 04  |  Merseyside
UK internet sperm baby born
19 Aug 03  |  Health
Internet sperm bank for lesbians
24 Jun 02  |  Health

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