Saint Mary’s Hospital has announced a unique collaboration with US company Fairfax Cryobank to establish a new base for storing and distributing donor sperm from Manchester throughout the UK and Ireland. This will make Saint Mary’s the UK’s largest donor sperm bank, and help to overcome the shortage of donor sperm.
Same-sex couples and single women undergoing IVF or other fertility treatment will now have access to more than 100 US-based sperm donors who comply with Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) regulations around screening, confidentiality and traceability. This service is also available to heterosexual couples receiving NHS fertility treatment who require donor sperm.
Rather than supplying donor sperm directly to clinics in the UK and Ireland from its facility in the United States, Fairfax Cryobank will now use the specialist assisted reproduction unit at Saint Mary’s Hospital to manage this process.
Saint Mary’s was the first hospital in the UK to offer an NHS IVF service. For more than 30 years it has provided a range of assisted conception treatments to NHS and fee-paying patients, offering care that is safe, effective and based on the latest scientific research.
“This is an exciting partnership which offers a fast and efficient distribution service to support the treatment of heterosexual, single women, and same sex couples,” said Dr Raj Mathur, the Clinical Lead at Saint Mary’s who is working with Fairfax Cryobank to provide the new service. “Our collaboration with Fairfax will provide quicker access to donor sperm for both NHS and private patients, with experts from Saint Mary’s ensuring rigorous quality standards are maintained.”
The donor pool consists of undergraduate and graduate college students, as well as successful professionals. Men who are interested in becoming applicants must be between 18-39 years of age, healthy and have no significant health risk factors. Of those who apply, fewer than 1 percent actually are accepted as sperm donors for Fairfax Cryobank, which illustrates the company’s rigorous screening processes.
The initial screening of donors includes an extensive health questionnaire, physical exam, medical, genetic and infectious disease testing plus a thorough sperm quality evaluation. Repeated physical exams and infectious disease testing are ongoing while donors are actively donating. Donors also agree to an annual update of their medical history. Any relevant information uncovered as part of these updates will be made available to all recipients who purchase donor sperm from Fairfax Cryobank.
Fairfax Cryobank is excited about the opportunity to partner with Saint Mary’s Hospital and expand its service to the UK.
“Fairfax Cryobank is committed to helping to assist our clients build healthy families. Our partnership with Saint Mary’s will allow those clients in the UK and Ireland easy access to HFEA compliant donor sperm with state of the art infectious and genetic screening to reduce the risk of disease transmission,” said Fairfax Cryobank Director Stephen Pool, PhD. “Having worked with the professionals at Saint Mary’s for over 18 months further solidifies our confidence in this partnership to be able to help patients needing donor sperm to create healthy families.”