Sperm donor drought in Far North
MEN of Cairns are being urged to pull together to help solve a chronic sperm drought.
Australia is in the grips of a sperm shortage with one clinic in Cairns forced to fork out as much as $800 for a single sperm sample from the US, for couples in need of donors.
As a result, couples are waiting years to find the right donor.
Queensland Fertility Group Cairns clinical director Dr Bob Miller said recent changes to legislation, which meant donors no longer remained anonymous to their offspring, had deterred many men from donating.
"In the old days, they used to sort of donate and forget," Dr Miller said.
"Now the donors have to be registered and go for quite a bit of tests before they're allowed to donate.
"It means that the offspring cannot find them until they grow up to 18, but they can find them and find out who their father is, if they want to.
"These things are very good ethically, but it means that we don't have many donors."
Dr Miller said potential donors were also deterred by the amount of medical tests and other legal requirements. A small number of medical tests are required before, during and after donations including blood tests to screen for sexually transmitted diseases.
Potential donors need to complete a family medical history and lifestyle declaration before donating and every three months while making donations.
Donors are also required to undertake psychologist assessment.
Adding to this, Australian donors cannot receive any financial reward for their service, nor can sperm from one donor be used to produce more than 10 offspring.
Sperm samples are frozen and preserved in liquid nitrogen for six months before they can be used.
With so few Cairns men willing to come forward to donate their sperm, Dr Miller said the clinic had been forced to import samples from the US.
"I think if the importation of sperm from the States stopped, there would be a lot of disadvantaged couples," he said.
For more information about becoming a sperm donor, contact the Queensland Fertility Group in Cairns on 4041 2400.
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Life on hold: Dr Bob Miller, of Queensland Fertility Group, inspects cryovials of frozen sperm. Picture: JAKE NOWAKOWSKI
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