Understanding fertility problems

A number of BMI Healthcare's Assisted Conception Units also have Donor Sperm Banks where suitable donors are recruited from the local community.

A strict process of screening, counselling and assessment is undertaken before potential donors are added to the bank.

Donors are reimbursed for their expenses and, once accepted as being appropriate, are asked to donate sperm twice a week for up to six months. Each time this involves a short visit to the hospital's Assisted Conception Unit, for which approximately £35 expenses are reimbursed.

Assessment & Screening

Semen Assessment

At each of BMI Healthcare's Assisted Conception Units, after consultation, investigation and counselling, a programme of treatment is created and designed to provide the greatest chance of success for each couple.

Counselling, History & Examination

Those that are accepted as donors are seen by an independent counsellor who explains in full the implications of donation and about the use of the sperm. The Medical Director takes the donor's full medical history, performs a physical examination and explains the implications of HIV screening. Arrangements for their initial blood screen are made at the clinic in line with the recommendations of the British Andrology Society. All donors sign a disclosure to information form. After the medical examination the Medical Director writes to the donor's GP to verify the information given.

Screening & Quarantine

Initially, the donors are screened for Hepatitis B and C, HIV, Syphilis, Gonorrhoea, Cytomegalovirus and Chlamydia. All the donors have their karyotype checked. Hereditary diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis for Caucasian donors, Sickle-Cell Anaemia for African and West Indian donors, Thalassaemia for Mediterranean and Asian donors and Tay-Sachs Disease for Jewish donors, are also checked.

The donors are screened for HIV on a monthly basis and a full blood screen prior to release of their sperm after six months in quarantine.

Sperm Storage

The sperm is frozen in 0.5ml aliquots in labelled ampoules. The sperm are stored and quarantined in liquid nitrogen.

Using Donor Sperm

The donor sperm frozen at the hospital is used exclusively for the treatment of patients and not for research. Some of the sperm collected will be sold to other licensed centres.

Once a donor has achieved 10 pregnancies, the clinic where the sperm was donated will be notified in writing. After this date sperm from these donors may only be purchased for sibling use.