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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 9 April, 2003, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
Sperm imported to meet shortage
Sperm under microscope
Sperm supplies are imported from England
Experts treating infertility at a Scottish hospital have offered patients sperm imported from England because of a national shortage.

Edinburgh Royal Infirmary confirmed that sperm from London has been offered to patients.

Couples have been advised in advance that they face a charge of 75 to cover the cost of buying sperm in London and transporting it to Edinburgh.

It has been reported that fears of a legal change, lifting restrictions on the identity of donors, may be responsible for the decline in Scottish sperm donations.

We are very short of sperm and egg donors, and the main reason for that is probably the issue of anonymity
Dr Joo Thong
Edinburgh Royal Infirmary
The Edinburgh Evening News said Lothian University Hospitals NHS Trust would bid for cash from Lothian NHS Board to cover the cost of what was previously a free scheme at the infirmary's Assisted Conception Unit (ACU).

Dr Joo Thong, a consultant gynaecologist who works at the ACU, told the Evening News: "We really need more donors and have started buying sperm from London because we don't get enough donors here.

"We are very short of sperm and egg donors, and the main reason for that is probably the issue of anonymity.

Biological fathers

"We already had relatively few donors coming forward and it's going to get worse because the (UK Government) may be changing the anonymity rules.

"If we do not have donor anonymity, donors will not come forward."

In January, the Department of Health in London said children conceived using donated sperm would not be given the right to discover the identity of their biological fathers.

However, it has been undertaking a consultation on whether or not more details about donors should be divulged to offspring.

That consultation is due to end in June and any law change implemented at Westminster would apply in Scotland as fertilisation is a reserved matter.


SEE ALSO:
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