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expert reaction to analysis recommending sperm donation to strangers after death should be allowed in the UK

An analysis,  published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, argues that sperm donation after death, to a stranger, should be allowed in the UK.


Prof Allan Pacey, Professor of Andrology, University of Sheffield, said:

“This is a very well argued paper but one that I find myself strongly disagreeing with. Given the distance we have travelled in terms of recruiting donors who are willing to be identified to donor conceived people, it feels like a backward step to then recruit donors who are dead and therefore they will never have the opportunity to meet. The practicalities of posthumous sperm extraction and its use does not concern me, as these are fairly routine techniques. But I do feel very uncomfortable with the idea. I’d much rather that we invested our energy in trying to recruit younger, healthy, willing donors who stand a good chance of being alive when the donor conceived person starts to become curious about them, and would have the opportunity to make contact with them without the aid of a spiritualist.”


Ms Sarah Norcross, Director, Progress Educational Trust (PET), said:

“The question of whether sperm should be added to the list of tissues donated after death is a challenging one. Further discussion is needed to understand whether people who need to use donor sperm would even want to use the sperm of a deceased donor. It is also vital to seek the opinions of donor-conceived people about what they think the impact would be of never being able to meet the donor.”



The ethical case for non-directed postmortem sperm donation’ by Hodson et al. was published in the Journal of Medical Ethics at 23:30 UK time on Monday 20th January 2020. 

DOI: 10.1136/medethics-2019-105637


Declared interests

Prof Pacey: “Chairman of the advisory committee of the UK National External Quality Assurance Schemes in Andrology, Editor in Chief of Human Fertility and Trustee of the Progress Educational Trust (all unpaid).  Also, recent consultancy work for Cryos, MereoBiopharma Group, TwentySix03, Pharmasure (with all monies going to University of Sheffield).”

Sarah Norcross: “PET is a charity that works to improve choices for people with infertility and genetic conditions.”

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