Yes, we are tough on screening sperm donors

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Having a donor child is one of the safest ways to have a child. Even so, we must always embrace the fact that we are dealing with nature – and therefore our own imperfect genes.

Nordic Cryobank, who handles European Sperm Bank’s sperm donor related matters, was yesterday fully acquitted in a pivotal court case held before the Danish Eastern High Court. 


Nordic Cryobank was accused of not screening a specific donor for a very rare disease and the case went to court – despite full support and acknowledgement of Nordic Cryobank’s procedures from both the Danish Board of Health and the Danish Ministry of Justice’s Forensic Medicine Council.

But why write about this in this blog? 
Well, because the nature of the court case touches upon the inherent basics of making a baby – both under ‘natural’ circumstances and with sperm from a donor: can we ever be 100 percent sure that our coming child does not have a disease?

​First of all, it is important to state that having a child with donor sperm is safe. Actually even more safe than through ‘normal’ reproduction due to the extensive screening and medical examinations that all our sperm donors go through. 

Second, it is equally important that we realise, that we all have little faults in our genes; that there simply is no such thing as a perfect man or a perfect woman – and that we therefore, when we opt for having children, always must embrace the natural fact that there is a risk, even if ever so slight.

But even though it is extremely rare that sperm donors turn out to be the cause of a condition in a donor child, we of course take it on us be extra careful and extremely vigilant when we screen our sperm donors. 

Because even if we from nature know that it is not possible to completely remove all imperfections, we know that we are able to rule out most serious diseases and conditions through testing and thorough screening. 

So, in fewer words, yes, we are tough on screening our sperm donors.

As always, if you have any questions whatsoever on our sperm donors, our screening processes and other donor-related issues, you can find an abundance of information on our website or you can call or email us at any time.

//posted by Adam, ​communications advisor to European Sperm Bank

What is MOT?

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If you are already in fertility treatment you most certainly have heard about MOT.
MOT is short for “Motile Total”, which is the way to express how many sperm cells are healthy and moving in a forward direction. 

MOT is counted in millions per milliliter. This means that MOT20 equals 20 million healthy sperm cells per milliliter.


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The donor sperm is frozen in straws. A straw is a tiny tube with sperm inside. ​Straws are made specifically for safe cryo storage of human sperm in liquid nitrogen and nitrogen vapour. Each straw of donor sperm from European Sperm Bank used for insemination contains 0,5 milliliters.

​It happens on a daily basis that people call us and ask what MOT our donors have. The answer is simple: To ensure the best quality, all our units (both ICI and IUI) are MOT20+, meaning that we ensure a minimum of 10 million healthy sperm cells per straw. This is our way to ensure, that you have the best conditions to achieve a pregnancy.


​​Is this super sperm from super donors?
Our sperm donors are regular, healthy men with an extraordinary good sperm quality. Only 5-7 % of all our donor applicants are accepted into the program after a through screening. They may look ordinary, but what makes them stand out, is their sperm quality and their wish to help those who need it. For us, that makes them super!

Read more about MOT


//posted by Lilian, Nurse and Donor Coordinator at European Sperm Bank


Why are you a sperm donor?

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At European Sperm Bank we are very proud of our sperm donors. Selflessly they bring joy to so may people all over the world, and by giving a little part of themselves, they make it possible for others to have their dream of a child come true.

But why take our word for it? Let’s hear what the guys say about what it means to them to donate their sperm.

We have asked a few of our sperm donors to tell us what makes them want to donate their sperm. Here is what they replied:


                   “Being a donor makes me proud. I like the thought of helping people
all over the world to achieve their dream of having a child.”

“I have not found the right woman for me yet, and somehow it is great
to know that even if I should never have kids of my own,
there will be  a part of me out there in the world.”

“Being a donor is great. I get to help someone create a dream child
– what is better that that? AND I get paid to do so.”


                                                          “My sister needed a sperm donor to have my lovely niece
and it made me think that everyone should get that chance
– and that I could help someone like her.”


You can read more stories from the sperm donors and you can also learn more about what it takes to be a sperm donor at European Sperm Bank.

//posted by Michael, Communications Specialist at European Sperm Bank

Sperm donation: Changing the lives of others

PictureThe sperm donors at European Sperm Bank are very much aware of the good they do, but the inspiration to become a sperm donor comes from many angles.

Being a sperm donor is not mainstream like giving blood. Perhaps it should be? Especially when you look at the good that sperm donors do for people seeking pregnancy. Without them, there would be less children and happy families around the world.


Mainstream or not, the inspiration to become a sperm donor comes in many shape and forms. We call this the A-B-C of sperm donation:
//posted by Lilian, Fertility nurse and Donor Coordinator at European Sperm Bank

 We test sperm donors for Zika virus

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Zika virus is a growing concern in many parts of the world. We test all sperm donors that have travelled to countries where the Zika virus is present.

As we travel the world, we are more susceptible to contract diseases and to be infected by different types of vira. This is also true for the Zika virus that is slowly spreading throughout South and Latin America and South East Asia.


Key facts about Zika:

  • Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes.
  • People with Zika virus disease can have symptoms including mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
  • There is scientific consensus that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Links to other neurological complications are also being investigated. (source: WHO 2016)

But more importantly, the Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her foetus and this infection can cause birth defects. This may cause alarm for women seeking assisted pregnancy with donor sperm: Has the sperm donor been tested? Has the sperm donor travelled and gotten bit by a mosquito? I am pregnant with donor sperm. How can I be sure that I do not infect my coming child?

What to do? 
To minimise the risk of contracting Zika through sperm donor, European Sperm Bank has tested our sperm donors for the Zika virus since 2015, if and when they have travelled in any of the countries or areas where Zika is prevalent. At present, the list encompasses all countries in South and Latin America and South East Asia – and we of course keep a vigilant eye on the developments.

The donors are obligated to tell us when they have been abroad. In case a donor has been to an outbreak country, we test the donor, and he is not permitted to donate until we have a negative result.
Therefore, we can enforce our strict policy of only selling thoroughly screened sperm of the highest quality.

You can learn more about the Zika-virus from the European for Disease Prevention and Control and the World Health Organization.
 
You can also learn more about our screening process here.

//posted by Thomas – Head Laboratory Technician at European Sperm Bank

I am a sperm donor

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What considerations and reasons do sperm donors have for donating? Why do they put in all the time and effort? Could it just be the money, or are they also thinking about the good they do and the people they help? We have asked a few.

For one of our sperm donor, the inspiration, conviction and dedication to become a sperm donor from a good friend:

“I became a sperm donor after learning that my best friend was a donor child. I kept thinking that it was a sperm donor, who made his life possible, and I thought it would be amazing, if I could contribute to make someone’s greatest wish of being a parent come true,” he says.


Another donor continues: “I have not found the woman for me yet, and somehow it is great to know that even if I should never have kids of my own, there will be a part of me out there in the world.” 

As with blood donors, you need to be in good health to be sperm donor at European Sperm Bank
All sperm donor applicants are subject to a thorough screening process, including blood tests and genetic tests before they become active sperm donors. Further, all applicants have to provide a thorough family health history and complete a personality test before entering sperm donor programme at European Sperm Bank. 
As a result, only 5 to 10 % of applicants become donors. 

This is all for the benefit of the many women seeking pregnancy through donor sperm – and a personal stamp of quality for the donors:  “When I finally was approved as a donor after the numerous tests, I was beyond happy with the thought of changing the lives of people, who so badly wish to become parents. I like to think that I have made difference,” he says. 

Learn more about the sperm donors here 

//posted by Lilian, Fertility Nurse and Donor Coordinator at European Sperm Bank

Choosing the right sperm donor

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“Choosing a sperm donor is quite a journey. Initially, you think it will be easy, but it can be quite overwhelming, because there is so much choice and also so much information. Ultimately, what I learned is to narrow your focus, and look at the things that are most important to you. It can be difficult as a couple to find a donor that you are both really happy with, but we got there in the end.”  [Chloe Jenkins]

Finding the love of your life often results in the great wish of having a child. Being a lesbian, it is pretty obvious that it’s nothing you just do – or that comes naturally. 


When Chloe and Emma from Glasgow, UK, met each other while in their mid-30s, they quickly starting talking about having a child. Emma was going to be the one to carry the baby being slightly younger than Chloe – and also healthier, according to Chloe. 

The couple hoped they would conceive quickly and it was clear to both of them that using a sperm donor from a professional sperm bank, was the only right option for them. They knew others who had gone through the same reflections, and who spoke fondly of getting help through a sperm bank: 

“The first big decision is choosing a known donor or not. I pushed for us using a sperm bank because I didn’t feel comfortable with using someone we knew, as I felt it complicated our family relationship with our future child”, Chloe says.

As the couple resides in the UK, choosing a non-contact was not a legal option. It might not be the right solution for everyone, but Chloe and Emma felt from the beginning that openness and honesty was the way to go, so there was no doubt in their minds that using an open donor was the best decision for them and their future baby.

The couple was overwhelmed by the many options on the European Sperm Bank website. They started out by going through the donor list separately – hoping that afterwards, when comparing the donors, they would have selected some of the same donors. That did not happen, as they had different approaches: 

“I started out by looking at very detailed information in a search for the ‘perfect’ donor, which soon became a little overwhelming. I took some advice from my parents and some friends, to be much more instinctual about it – which coincidently was Emma’s approach! They told me: Find donors who I connect with either based on their pictures or simple information like jobs and interests, and only if I  like someone then check out the detailed info”, Chloe says.

Finally, the couple sat down together and started their search for a donor by only using one filter: a Caucasian donor. They didn’t want to put any further layers of complexity on their future baby’s identity than necessary. They both wanted a donor, they could relate to, rather than being very specific about hair and eye colour. 

Family medical history is something that takes up quite a bit in the extended profiles. This is very important for some people when choosing a donor, but for Emma and Chloe it was much more important to feel some kind of connection with the donor’s interest:
 
“This for me made it all a much more natural process. After all, we don’t rule out potential partners  based on their grandparent’s health history”, Chloe states.

The donor list showed 50 available donors and the couple started out by looking at baby pictures. It was not anything particular they were looking for – they went by gut feeling. They narrowed it down to about a dozen donors, and then began to look through the donors’ profiles and staff impressions. Chloe and Emma continued going with their gut feeling, and ended up with seven potential donors. They asked each other which of these really stood out and were left with the final three options. 

The final match came with the handwritten note. There was no doubt in their minds that they had found their donor. He was not perfect, but then who is? 

“In the end we are really happy about our choice as a couple, and we feel that we have a strong story to tell any future children about the donor, who so kindly helped us to bring them into the world”, Chloe concludes.

//posted by Stinne, Client Service Manager at European Sperm Bank

How we test our sperm donors

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We all have little fault in our genes. But when you get pregnant with a sperm donor, you are actually safer than if you did it “the normal way”.

There is no such thing as a perfect man or the perfect woman. In fact, we all have different little imperfections – also on a genetic level.

Even though it is extremely rare that sperm donors turn out to be the cause of a condition in a donor child, it is necessary to be extra careful when screening sperm donors.

​While it is not possible to completely remove all imperfections, we can make sure that we rule out most serious diseases and conditions through testing and thorough screening of the sperm donors.


At European Sperm Bank, less than 10 percent of our sperm donor applicants make it all the way through the screening process.

During this process, all our donor applicants are subjected to among other:

Therefore, we can enforce our strict policy of only selling thoroughly screened sperm of the highest quality.

//posted by Thomas – ​Head Laboratory Technician at European Sperm Bank

From Chemotherapy to Baby Joy

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Lise is a client at European Sperm Bank. Her decision to use a sperm donor was caused by tragic incidents in her personal life. These are her words.

As husband and wife, it was natural for us to have children. Our first daughter was born in 2010 and soon after, we started trying for our second baby.

This was immediately put on a hold when my husband was diagnosed with both testicular cancer and pelvic cancer. It felt like the sky had fallen down on us.


My husband started treatment – they removed one of his testicles, and he received chemotherapy. Our doctors were very optimistic and had no doubt my husband would survive, and that we would have no problems making a baby with just the one testicle.
 
We tried for a long time but nothing happened. We went back the doctors, who referred us to a fertility clinic, where they began a number of tests on my husband.
 
The results were clear and devastating: There were no surviving sperm cells. Not even a single sperm to make an ICSI. I cannot explain how devastating this was to hear. We were marked infertile and sterile, and the pain of knowing that we could not have any more children was close to unbearable. Months passed and the pain just got worse.
 
In the end, I decided to contact European Sperm Bank – just to have a chat. I must admit that even thinking about using another man’s sperm seemed wrong. – The chat changed that.
 
I began to feel that we actually did have some options, and I introduced the idea of using a sperm donor to my husband. Let’s just say he didn’t jump through the roof with excitement.

Again, time passed and one day I said to my husband “I’m going to do this. I’m going to use a donor.” I chose a sperm donor that came close to looking like my husband, but after several inseminations, nothing happened.
In the meantime, European Sperm Bank had found a new sperm donor, who looked even more like my husband – I decided to change sperm donor and the clinic recommend IVF.

​FINALLY, I was pregnant!
 
It was a tough pregnancy. My husband was sceptical, maybe even distant to the pregnancy. I had to be incredible strong and convinced that when the baby would eventually come, he would fall in love with her.
And he did! Our second child, our baby girl was born in November 2015. We absolutely adore her! There is no doubt we would repeat the process again!

/​/posted by Stinne, Client Service Manager at European Sperm Bank (on behalf of Lise)

From a sperm donor: I can make someone’s dream come true

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Back in 2011, I became increasingly curious about becoming a sperm donor. I was in my early 20s, a student at The University of Aarhus. There were many stories in the media about men’s low quality of sperm.

I have always known that I would one day become a father, and all the stories in the media made me think about my own sperm quality.

What I would do if I couldn’t have children?


If that happened, adoption could be a solution. But I would without a doubt prefer my children to look a bit like me. With the help of a sperm donor, I may not be biologically linked to my children, but they would have some of the same features as me.
 
Sperm donation might seem easy but I can promise you that I have thought about pros and cons a million times. I have been through a lengthy examination at the doctor, to interviews, screening, tests and numerous blood tests.
 
Another important consideration when I became a sperm donor was how much I believe that environment is much more important than genes. People with a fundamental desire to become parents should have that opportunity – I think and believe that people who use donor sperm want a child more than anything, a child who is going to grow up with an indescribable amount of love.
 
Being a sperm donor, I can make someone’s dream come true: The dream of having a child.
 
I don’t want to be considered a hero, and I don’t think of myself as one. But it really means a lot to me that I have helped change someone’s life.

//posted by Stinne, Client Service Manager at European Sperm Bank (on behalf of Martin)