UK National Sperm Bank

The demise of the UK first National Sperm Bank is currently all over the media, along with the £77,000 one-off grant that resulted in only seven donors after two years. This is clearly not a good result, and many would see it as a waste of much-needed NHS funds.

However, we would argue that such a small figure should never have been offered or accepted in the first place to launch a donor recruitment drive and sustain it. A figure of £100,000 a month for two years would have been more realistic when running a national recruitment drive. The campaign should be managed like any other national campaign in the health sector.

Any campaign would need to run for long enough to stop being a novelty and become part of everyday life - no different to blood or organ donation - and just as important. The novelty aspect of the campaign may have helped gain press attention, but long-term it is not sustainable, nor helpful. The nudge-nudge, wink-wink aspect quickly becomes tedious and does nothing to elevate the role of sperm donation in the collective mind of the public.

PollenTree and other sites (it is a long list and includes Facebook, Yahoo, and Google, etc.) are frequently blamed - as though somehow it is our fault, and that we have caused a shortage - even though we have managed to gain tens of thousands of members; many of who are donors. We have grown using private money, not state funds.

However, at no time have we been contacted to discuss promoting the idea of a national sperm bank. Even though we have thousands of members who are a prime target group - those that have already decided to donate. There must be some way for the so-called "unregulated sector" to work with the mainstream health industry - to effectively come in from the cold. However, even the use of the term "unregulated" is loaded and disparaging. The constant negativity and negative press briefings are getting in the way. The negative press briefings feed the prurient sectors of the media with cheap stories - all the time damaging the public view of sperm donors.

There is too much noise and not enough signal - a conversation cannot start from this point.

There remains a need for a national sperm bank - and it should be tried again - but with proper funding and discussion.

We are happy to talk if contacted, but on the basis that sections of the Internet cannot be simply shut down because someone disagrees with it.