Medfem Sperm Donor Bank

Medfem Fertility Clinic founded its own sperm bank in 1990 to address the acute donor sperm shortage in South Africa and since then many couples, single women and LGBT couples have started and expanded their families.

We aim to provide an exclusive selection of anonymous donor sperm from a diverse range of origins. We are constantly looking for sperm donor candidates. Our donors are recruited from a variety of cultures, religions and sections of the community.

Our sperm donors are committed to help others conceive.

What we offer

  • An exclusive number of donors for a select number of patients
  • Donor selection by education, religion, occupation or interests
  • In accordance with South African law – Anonymity
  • Donor sperm that has been screened to minimise the risks of diseases and has undergone a three month quarantine period
  • Our sperm donor profiles allow you to view information on the sperm donors such as their age, ethnic background, qualifications, occupation, general health, physical characteristics, and their hobbies and interests.
  • Importing of donor sperm from international donor sperm banks

Why use donor sperm?

Donor sperm can be used in many different situations. Commonly, couples often choose donor sperm to help build their families when other attempts for correct male infertility have been unsuccessful. This includes LGBT couples and single ladies.

Understanding a donor sperm bank

Most people take it for granted that they’ll have children one day.  Yet one in six couples is infertile of which 40% is due to male factor infertility. Azoospermia (no sperm present) may exist from birth or may have developed  later on in life due to illness, injury, surgery or poor lifestyles.

Assisted reproductive treatment (ART) using donor gametes have provided new opportunities for treating infertile couples, single women and LGBT couples.  Sperm banking or more formally referred to as sperm cryopreservation has become one of the major assisted reproductive treatments.

Cryopreservation is the freezing and storage of biological tissue at low temperature for an indefinite period of time. Cryopreservation utilises liquid nitrogen as both the refrigerant and storage medium.  A sperm Cryobank is a facility that collects freezes and stores the sperm.

Once thawed, sperm can be introduced into  the female by artificial insemination (AI) either depositing the sperm into endocervical canal or the intrauterine cavity, or are used to inseminate oocytes (eggs) during in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or intra cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

One of the major advantages of frozen sperm is the almost indefinite storage period, without any genetic and functional characteristics being lost.  It can also more readily transported anywhere in the world using special containers that can withstand the rigors of transport.

This practice has increased with the demand for fertile and safe sperm.  If the sperm is quarantined in liquid nitrogen, the donor can be tested repeatedly for disease exposure over months before the sperm is used.  The South African Health Act has cautioned that fresh anonymous donor sperm should not be used for artificial insemination or ART. Only frozen anonymous donor sperm can be used if the donor has tests negative for STD viruses after a minimum of 90 days quarantine.

The number of times the same donor is used is controlled by South African law and has been limited to six live births per donor.

Ethical aspects of donor sperm

Because artificial insemination by donor (AID) introduces a third party it gives rise to diverse moral, ethical, legal and even genetic health issues.

Furthermore social embarrassment and a conservative mind set are still responsible for a lukewarm response among people with infertility.  Most husbands still hesitate at the idea of his wife accepting somebody else’s sperm.  People should not see this concept as frivolous or sexual but as a benevolent act such as blood donation.

There are two sources of gametes commonly used, those donated by relatives or friends, or those from anonymous sources.  Anonymous donors are always preferred though, to avoid the risk of conflict of attitude toward offspring from an identifiable non-parental source.  Concealing information about the conception of these offspring may become a problem later on in life when genetic fingerprinting is recorded.

In South Africa the law prohibits disclosure of donor and recipient identities. The identity of the donor shall remain anonymous and the clients have in no way the right to learn the identity of the donor or solicit donor-identifying information from any other source.  The donor shall also be free from any responsibility to the biological offspring produced by his sperm. It is the right of the sperm donor to indicate to whom he would like to donate his sperm (marital status of the couple, religion, sexual preference, and ethnic grouping).

The recipients have the right to be informed of the limitations and potential complications involved with sperm donation.  Sperm donation is not always successful and multiple treatments might have to be performed.  Also, the sperm bank cannot completely guarantee that the sperm they provide is disease free or free of genetic abnormalities.  Although genetic testing and disease screening techniques are advanced and sensitive, they are not fool proof.

Counselling and an informed consent are recommended for it establishes the donor and recipients rights about disclosure.  This consent is signed and verified by the donor, the recipient and the recipient’s doctor.  This form ensures that the client understands his/her rights and the rights of the sperm donor.  The principle of informed consent is based on the principles of scientific and medical ethics.

The recipients also must understand that she/he is fully responsible for the offspring conceived of the specimen.  Any woman who gives birth to the baby is the legal parent.  In the case of sperm donation, her partner is the legal parent with her so long as he/she has given written consent to treatment and they are being treated together as a couple.  The child’s birth certificate would state that they were the legal parents.  However, being a legal parent does not necessarily give the man/partner full parental responsibility unless he/she is married to the child’s mother.

The Ethics of Choosing Sperm

The doctor used to be the major selector of donors, but today the patients assisted by embryologists choose a donor according to preference.  Donors are usually selected to match their partners, which includes skin colour, eye colour, hair colour, height, build and finally, blood group where possible.  Other factors that play a role are interests, religion and social background.  This helps reduce excessive use of a donor within a limited geographic area.  It is important to remember that any child born from using donor sperm will be a random combination of the male and female characteristics, and so the characteristics of the result cannot be predicted.

Medical aspects of donor sperm

Proper screening requires sperm to be frozen and quarantined in a licensed storage facility before it can be used for treatment.  All donor sperm banks in South Africa should be registered at Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and should have a practicing license; therefore sperm from unlicensed sperm banks is illegal.

Donors are ordinary, physically healthy men from across society whose ages range from 21-35 years with normal, fertile sperm parameters.  All potential donors undergo rigorous assessment before being accepted.  Donor screening consists of questionnaires, blood screening, and semen specimen screening and donor history.

Each donor accepted in the initial screening process also goes through a psychological screening process. Only once a donor is cleared as a suitable candidate, are they admitted to the sperm donor program.

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