USA sperm banks?

(32 Posts)
Allopinionswelcome1 Sun 09-Sep-18 14:11:51

Does anyone have any recent experience of using American sperm banks?

If so how did you do it? Did you have treatment in the UK or elsewhere in Europe? Or the states?

I found out on Friday from my preferred clinic (IVI in London) that due to changes in UK legislation in April, all UK clinics have to go through a several-months-long application process for each USA sperm bank they want to import from - only 2 have been approved so far and neither have particularly good reviews or success rates.

I'm now trying to decide whether to go to a European clinic, the US, or just wait a few months and pray my donor is still available. I have got my heart set on a particular donor and check every day to make sure he still has vials available blush.

OP’s posts: |
MummyMaman18 Mon 10-Sep-18 20:27:05

Just when we chose our US donor, our clinic told us about the new HFEA requirements. So now we wait... and its really difficult. sad
When researching our options, we generally found that Belgian and Spanish clinics choose the sperm donor for you so if choosing the donor yourself is important then I suggest Denmark. US will be a while to import to Europe, so you could investigate getting treatment there instead if time is of the essence.

Just wondering, which are the clinics you’ve found to already be certified for US import?

Wishing you the best of luck on your journey!

Allopinionswelcome1 Mon 10-Sep-18 21:13:29

Hi MummyMaman,

The two that are certified already are Barts Health Centre (need a GP referral) and the Wolfson Fertility Centre at Hammersmith Hospital (phone goes straight to voicemail and they haven't called me back).

There is a list of 13 clinics that have applied to export from California Cryobank but they weren't able to tell me how long it was likely to take for the others to be approved. I didn't ask about any other American banks.

I have looked at Cryos but there just isn't the same level of information. It's made me realise how important it was for me to know as much about them as possible.

So have you decided to wait for this particular donor? If so, have you bought in advance? And how have you made sure you are one of the 10 families allowed to use the donor? Hope you don't mind me asking - I'm trying to nagivate all this at the moment and it feels like no one has answers!

OP’s posts: |
MummyMaman18 Mon 10-Sep-18 22:00:00

My wife (29) is planning to carry, so we have time on our side. We decided to order 8 vials from California Cryo Bank since we would like to have more than one baby and CCB gives 3 years free storage when you order multiple vials (and there is a severe lack of donors for the characteristics we’re looking for and already gone through the heart break of a donor getting sold out). Now we are playing the waiting game for certification of our London clinic, but getting a bit itchy so considering going to a clinic already certified.
Good question about pregnancy slot, I need to check that out!

LoveAGoodChat Tue 11-Sep-18 20:03:56

I was wondering if you can't import the sperm you want to the UK because of rules and regulations, could you maybe go on a short trip to the USA as a mini vacation and have the procedure done there ? (Isn't there health insurance in the usa that can be purchased specifically to cover this kind of thing) ...please don't flame me, I don't know much about this , blush

Persipan Tue 11-Sep-18 20:20:40

US fertility treatment is reeeeaaaaally expensive.

MissConductUS Tue 11-Sep-18 20:23:46

(Isn't there health insurance in the usa that can be purchased specifically to cover this kind of thing)

Not that I'm aware of. Insurance here is required to be comprehensive, and even if it wasn't, no one would see infertility coverage to couples already seeking treatment for infertility. The insurance would cost at least the same as just paying for the treatment.

OMGtwins Tue 11-Sep-18 20:25:40

We used xytex and they were very efficient, expensive, but efficient 😁

Allopinionswelcome1 Wed 12-Sep-18 00:57:29

@Loveagoodchat - I've considered that and probably would do it as a last resort, such is my attachment to this donor!

I can't believe it's so hard to find out information... I have lost count of the number of clinics I've emailed and spoken to in Denmark, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic... plus cryobanks, the Donor Conception Network, the HFEA... I can't find a European clinic that can accept shipments from CC. However only this evening did Ireland occur to me... The cryobank say they ship to Ireland so I'll talk to a clinic or two there tomorrow morning.

Anyway, my Californian donor was down to 9 vials this evening so I bit the bullet and ordered 4 vials - not an insignificant slice of my budget. Let's hope I can make this work! smile

OP’s posts: |
Allopinionswelcome1 Wed 12-Sep-18 01:01:09

Re pregnancy slots, the woman at CCB told me that they do not sell vials from a donor to more than 10 UK customers, and that by virtue of me buying vials, I am one of those 10 UK families. So that's one bit of good news...

OP’s posts: |
MummyMaman18 Wed 12-Sep-18 06:41:46

I emailed the HFEA and the next day they shared the status of the applications for the new certification between my London clinic and US donor banks. I advise you do the same! It was very reassuring to have transparency on the process and timescale. Our clinic had made an error in the paperwork and so needs to resubmit, hence the delay.
Also Wolfson has an open evening on 1st October - could be a good opportunity to pin a human being down since you had struggled over the phone? Just a suggestion.
Best of luck!

silverbrooke Wed 12-Sep-18 14:10:25

Hey Allopinionswelcome1!

Full disclosure, I used to work for Fairfax Cryobank when I lived in the USA, and I work with London Sperm Bank right now. It has been a real frustration for any of us trying to import as the HFEA has a pretty big backlog of paperwork now.

"I'm now trying to decide whether to go to a European clinic, the US, or just wait a few months and pray my donor is still available. I have got my heart set on a particular donor and check every day to make sure he still has vials available."

If you have the funding, there are quite a few clinics on the East coast that do cater to fertility treatments for overseas clients. A better option might be to see if your sperm bank will let you purchase and store with them for peace of mind.

The last thing you want if he's your #1 guy is for him to run out of vials. It does happen as the US banks tend to sell on a first come first serve basis, also sometimes on a 'rolling release' model as vials clear quarantine. I have had to tell people on the phone before that there are no more vials for their donor, and it is heartbreaking. You might be able to call them and see if they can give you an inventory range? Like he's got 10-25 vials, 25+, or <10....

Most US sperm banks have a buy-back type policy where if the vials were stored with them and never left the sperm bank, and you decide to not use them, they will refund you part of the purchase price (like 50%). You run the risk of loosing some £ if you end up not needing the vials, but you can guarantee that how ever many you purchased are yours for as long as you need them.

Good luck!

silverbrooke Wed 12-Sep-18 14:13:31

Hah! I just refreshed and it added the rest of your conversation - congrats on the vial purchase, He's yours! smile

Allopinionswelcome1 Thu 13-Sep-18 00:41:39

Thanks @silverbrooke
It's a big leap of faith because I still don't have a clue how I'm going to unite them with my eggs grin

The Ireland thing was a non-starter - the clinic I looked at does import (not from CCB though, only Fairfax, where my #2 guy is!). But the clinic said I couldn't order the vials in advance - they have to do it themselves after all consultations, tests completed, etc, and that there was no guarantee that the family limit wouldn't be reached by the time the vials were shipped - whereas Fairfax told me it was fine to order in advance and get it shipped to the clinic, and that once paid for, I was part of the family limit? Do you know who is right?

Must admit I'm finding the comms really frustrating, it can be so hard to speak to the right people. A big part of me wishes I never knew these banks existed and then I'd just use a European one and be none the wiser...

Lesson for the future: don't choose a donor in advance!

OP’s posts: |
silverbrooke Thu 13-Sep-18 10:40:23

Here is where you run into the problem of individual clinic policy and and individual sperm bank policy.

Fairfax counts family limits before they know pregnancy outcomes - so as soon as someone purchases a donor they consider that slot filled until someone reports back that they did not achieve pregnancies and will not continue using that donor. Only then does a slot potentially free up. London Sperm Bank works similarly, as both of them err on the side of caution to not oversell a donor. I think CCB works similarly, but you'd have to ask their client services.

Now some clinics are really particular - and if this Irish clinic has it in their standards of practice that they order vials themselves for patients, then that might be what they have to do to follow their own protocol. That said, a lot of times they just want to touch base with the sperm bank themselves to make sure all the shipping details are correct and that you have the kind of vials they want. I used to have a lot of clinics order out of a patient's storage account on their behalf.

If the CCB guy is 'your' guy, I'd put my foot down if it was me. This is your baby, and having the right donor for you is so important, way more important than what clinic you go to in the long run, I think.

I'd tell them that you've got CCB donor 12345 in storage. Then reassure them that you're part of the 10 family count, and CCB should be able to send your clinic a letter showing their compliance with HFEA regulations and detailing exactly how they follow the rules. Once the clinic is satisfied, if they want to schedule a delivery themselves, they should be able to order out of your storage account as long as you authorized your doctor to order on your behalf - ask CCB for the details.

I'd say give CCB a webchat today and just get some more ammunition before you go back to your clinic.

Geluksvogel Fri 14-Sep-18 07:10:20

Not sure if it will help but I was treated in Cyprus and as the Northern side is Turkish and outside the EU they don’t have to worry about the same constraints. My clinic worked with most sperm banks and were great. I also agree that the Donor is more important than the clinic. You need a great clinic but you’re creating a human at the end of the day so 50% of them being from who you want is key in my opinion or was for us. Good luck.

Allopinionswelcome1 Sun 16-Sep-18 12:21:36

Thanks so much both, this is really helpful.

Can I ask which clinic you were with in Cyprus? And how long did you have to go to Cyprus for? Did it feel like they knew what they were doing? (EU regulation is a pain but it can be comforting too!)

The Irish clinic categorically won't work with CCB, only Fairfax - they say it is part of their licensing agreement. However I did (amazingly) find a donor at Fairfax who I would be equally happy with, however he is not on the UK site yet, so the Irish clinic can't find him. I will forward the Fairfax email to the Irish clinic saying they are happy for the clinic to order from my storage account (once he appears on the UK site and I have purchased)... This would obviously mean I lost the CCB guy and a couple of thousand dollars. But I guess I'd spend at least that if I had to travel to the US for treatment.

OP’s posts: |
Geluksvogel Sun 16-Sep-18 12:56:34

Hi @Allopinionswelcome1 - I was with Team Z at Kolan Hospital. If you look on fertility friends or google Team Z you’ll see that they were at Bahceci aka British IVF but left to set up on their own a year or so ago. You’ll also see excellent reviews for Zeren and Dr Z going back many years. They operate out of the same hospital as Team Miracle but are totally separate from them. Different floors and staff.

IVF is definitely an industry in Cyprus but you get amazing skill and service. They are as advanced if not more advanced than here (family member a leading UK Dr in IVF Research who recommended).

I flew out on CD5 and stayed 9 days but could have flown back 2/3days earlier. We did a freeze all cycle (we transfer in January). You would need 14 days for a fresh transfer.

They defo deal with CCB as we considered them. I can not recommend enough. Feel free to PM and whatever you decide all the best of luck.

silverbrooke Mon 17-Sep-18 15:56:45

Ooo, well hopefully the FFX guy is UK Compliant!

Not all the ID Option donors on the USA site are UK compliant, even though they agree to have offspring know who they are at 18. Some historic donors are happy to do so when Fairfax asks them retroactively (if a UK family is interested in him). The ones on the FFX UK site have already done all their HFEA forms (CD, MD, DI etc).

If the CCB guy is in storage in CA, can you do the 50% buy back still? At least that way you are only out about half that $$.

Allopinionswelcome1 Mon 17-Sep-18 21:36:58

Aargh! It looked for a while as though Cyprus was going to be the silver bullet. I made some calls off the back of Geluksvogul's comments, found 2 clinics I liked with people who were really helpful, got prices which were reasonable, established they work with CCB, was almost ready to press the button... then found out from the Cryobank that they can only ship anonymous donors to Cyprus due to Cypriot law. That's a deal-breaker for me so it's back to the drawing board unfortunately. Gutted.

@silverbrooke - I'm interested to know what else would make a donor non-compliant? I thought it was just ID disclosure and the family limit?

OP’s posts: |
silverbrooke Mon 17-Sep-18 21:41:44


They have to have completed the HFEA paperwork (CD, MD, DI forms) in order to be U.K. compliant. Some of the older donors might be ID Option, but may not have filled out and consented to the additional U.K. requirements when they donated. All of the donors who are current will have been asked these things when they started donating, so they will be a solid yay or nay.

Geluksvogel Mon 17-Sep-18 23:14:14

@Allopinionswelcome that’s so annoying. My donor has a fully open ID (non anonymous and traceable at 18) and I shipped to Cyprus. I used Cryos though so it’s not a blanket Cypriot law issue. It must be US specific. Thanks for the info that will be a deal breaker for us in the future when we use my wife’s eggs to create embryos. Good luck with finding a solution.

Allopinionswelcome1 Tue 18-Sep-18 00:13:29

Oh that is really interesting......... I heard this from CCB, not the clinic, so perhaps they have got it wrong. To be honest I was astonished the clinic had not mentioned it as we had a full half-hour conversation about details and I said I had identified a donor. (When I called a Spanish clinic about treatment they told me that instantly that Spain allows anonymous-only donors, as they know most UK clients want open donors). I'll call them tomorrow... Fingers crossed!

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Geluksvogel Tue 18-Sep-18 09:15:32

@Allopinionswelcome I checked with my clinic and they say non anonymous are fine. Maybe CCB meant south Cyprus. Definitely fine in North Cyprus.

Dosmamas Thu 27-Sep-18 00:44:30

Hi girls, my partner and I are considering purchasing from a sperm bank so I will slot myself in this thread for later. It is so hard to find people to talk to about this so you guys are very invaluable to us with all the helpful info.

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