Dr Stewart said named donations had been practised in several countries for some years and the UK is having to learn how to make the transition from anonymity. It would help recruitment, she believed, if uncertainties about the eventual release of identifiable information could be clarified and fears allayed. "As yet there is no published policy from the HFEA regarding the plans for information release. Although it is effectively 18 years from now, current donors ought to have at least some idea of how that is to be managed."
She added that it was also important to make clear the level of commitment required as this had possibly contributed to the 30% drop-out rate over the decade of the study, particularly in the early days when fertility issues were less well known to the public.
The unit is also reviewing its high cut-off rate for semen quality. However, to achieve good freeze-thaw sperm quality and, hence, good success rates, the starting sample needs to be substantially better than the WHO criteria for sperm quality. Reducing these criteria may also reduce success rates, which is not appropriate, as this will not only compound the problem but also disappoint patients. Testing two samples may increase acceptability rates, but a man who has variable samples may not always produce samples suitable for freezing. This will increase the number of ejaculates he needs to donate and the time involved, making the whole process more costly.