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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 September 2006, 08:34 GMT 09:34 UK
NI has no available sperm donors
Two thirds of IVF clinics have trouble getting the sperm they need
NI couples seeking fertility treatment through sperm donation are being forced to go to Spain to find donors because of an acute shortage.

Part of the problem has been a change in legislation allowing the names of donors to be revealed.

A BBC survey found almost 70% of UK clinics said they had no sperm at all. There is now only one donor in Scotland and none in Northern Ireland.

A leading Belfast fertility expert said the anonymity loss "put donors off".

Dr Tony Traub, a senior consultant at the regional fertility centre in Belfast, said over the last two years, the number of donors available had gone down so dramatically "that we don't have any donors at the current time".

At present, there are quite a few of our couples are travelling to Spain to make use of donor sperm there
Dr Tony Traub
Regional Fertility Centre

"The number of couples who actually require donor sperm now is actually a very small percentage of our work.

"But, nevertheless, it is devastating for them that we are not able to offer this service anymore.

"Some couples have donor sperm treatment by insemination and others using test tube baby treatment.

"Both of those treatments are not really offered by us at the minute."

However, Dr Traub said the regional fertility centre would still treat couples who brought a known donor.

Similar legislation

Differing legislation in countries throughout Europe meant people were travelling elsewhere for treatment, he said.

"At present, there are quite a few of our couples are travelling to Spain to make use of donor sperm there," said Dr Traub.

"There is virtually no waiting list. But, of course, then there is the cost issue of having to travel."

He said the loss of anonymity "had put donors off".

Similar legislation in Scandinavia had led to a major shortage of donor sperm, said Dr Traub.

"We knew this was going to happen, but we hadn't really worked out a way of countering it.

"Recruiting a donor, I suspect, will be what will happen for lots of couples."

One couple on how a lack of donors has affected them

Q&A: Donor sperm shortage
13 Sep 06 |  Health
Worry over sperm donor shortage
31 Jul 06 |  Health
Sperm donor anonymity ends
31 Mar 05 |  Health

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