UK vs Overseas donor – does it really matter?

NUH Life is committed to recruiting UK donors and not exporting them overseas

Here at NUH Life we firmly believe that there are many benefits to using a sperm donor recruited in the UK, and we are working hard to recruit high quality UK based donors to ensure that potential parents are able to make that choice for themselves.

Because of the shortage of UK donors, many fertility units have resorted to importing donor sperm from overseas. In fact for the first time last year we tipped over the threshold where more than 50% of the donors used in treatment in the UK were undertaken using an imported overseas donor.

Whilst this may seem like a positive thing, recipients getting wider choice with little or no waiting times, is there a down side to this trend? Read on to find out more about why NUH Life are so passionate about giving recipients the choice to use a UK based donor.

Imported overseas donors will have been used to create multiple children outside of the UK 10 family limit

This means your child could end up with 100+ genetic siblings spread across the world.

Under statutory UK law there are strict limits on the number of families each donor can be used to create (a family being defined as the first child plus any siblings). This is set at 10 families per donor, and was introduced to reduce the risk of consanguinity (the risk of a donor conceived child entering into an intimate relationship with a genetic sibling).

Overseas donors imported into the UK (largely from USA or Scandinavia) are also bound by this 10 family limit. However, that limit ONLY applies to the treatments undertaken within a UK clinic. What is not often apparent to recipients is that their selected overseas donor will also have been used outside the UK – where different family limits may exist, or in some cases there are no restrictions at all.

There are growing concerns about the psychological harm that can occur in donor conceived children who find out that they have such large numbers of half siblings

An imported donor could have already been used to create multiple families outside of the UK – in fact there are many reports that some USA donors have been used to create over a hundred children each, as there is little enforceable regulation governing donor conception in America. It is thought that only 40% of USA donor births are ever reported, and there are no centralised registers of treatment or birth outcomes.

There is a growing amount of research looking at how large numbers of genetic siblings can impact on a donor conceived person, and indeed the donor themselves. Many report feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people that they have a genetic tie or “kinship” with, and how hard it can be to navigate a relationship with any or all of those people.

Using overseas donors inevitably means that your donor conceived child will have less opportunity to have meaningful contact with their donor and/or any genetic half siblings in the future should they want it

There are also practical issues. How can you build a meaningful relationship with someone who perhaps lives in another country, in a different timezone, who you share no cultural references with – who may not even speak the same language as you?

The logistics and expense of meeting someone who lives the other side of the world could pose a problem, not to mention potential language and cultural barriers.

UK donor sperm exports

There has also been a recent increase in UK donor sperm banks starting to export samples outside of the UK once the donor has fulfilled his 10 donor family limit in the UK.

Again this leads to higher numbers of genetic siblings – as once the donor samples leave the UK borders it is no longer subject to the UK regulatory requirements and limits. You should always check with your chosen sperm bank what their policy is on exportation of their donors so that you understand how many donor families your donor could potentially create in the future.

NUH Life has made a commitment to NOT exporting our donors outside the UK once they have reached their 10 family limit, so that you know 10 families MEANS 10 families.

Can I use an NUH Life donor at my treatment clinic?

We understand that you may have been led to believe there are no UK donors available so you have no option but to use the overseas donor banks your treatment clinic has recommended to you. But NUH Life is a well established NHS and HFEA registered clinic, and we have 40+ sperm donors available for use in treatment, and are continually recruiting more.

We would love the opportunity to help you find your perfect match from our stock – so if you are registered at a clinic and ready to start treatment, simply get in touch using our enquiry form and one of our donation team will be in touch.