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UK experts call for posthumous sperm donations to be allowed

UK experts call for posthumous sperm donations to be allowed

Doctors seeking to solve a shortage of living sperm donors have proposed that men should be able to "register their desire to donate their sperm after death for use by strangers”.

UK experts call for posthumous sperm donations to be allowed

In a report published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, authors Dr Nathan Hodson of the University of Leicester and Dr Joshua Parker of Manchester’s Wythenshawe Hospital said allowing posthumous sperm donations is “ethically permissible”, in a procedure similar to organ donations.

“This approach offers a potential means of increasing the quantity and heterogeneity of donor sperm,” they said.

“The inability to access donor sperm and the suffering this causes, we argue, justifies allowing access to sperm donated after death.”

The review’s authors note there is debate over what sort of need constitutes grounds for taking a person’s tissue after death for use in another person’s body. They argue that while infertility is not life-threatening, it still causes suffering which could be ameliorated by access to donor sperm. 

They also argue post-mortem sperm donation may be “an attractive option for some intended parents and some potential donors” by eliminating certain barriers such as loss of donor anonymity, and health demands of donating sperm including health tests, counselling and regular clinic visits.

“There are barriers to donating sperm in life that may prevent some men acting on their desire to help others or see their genes continue into future generations through donation,” says the study.

“Posthumous sperm donation avoids most of these problems, allowing men to access the positives of sperm donation without the drawbacks.”

The report refers to the UK’s shortage of donor sperm, which has led to Britain importing commercially-donated sperm to cope with a growing demand.

There’s a serious shortage of donated sperm in Australia and New Zealand too.

In New Zealand, the waitlist for a sperm bank can be up to two years.

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