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Fathers are fertile ground for hospital's family values.

A Birmingham fertility centre has issued an appeal for family men who want to help others become fathers.

Birmingham Women's Hospital has reopened its doors to sperm donors after two years of heart-searching about its policies - and wants mature men to contribute to its campaign.

Traditionally students from the nearby Birmingham University campus have trekked up to the hospital to earn pounds 15 in "beer money" in return for making a donation.

The hospital says it is not adopting a "no student" policy and even went to the university Freshers' Fair last week.

But senior andrologist Dr Matt Tomlinson said students who applied to become donors would be interviewed to ensure they understood the implications of what they were doing.

He said: "Our aim is to recruit ten to 15 good donors every year. Presently we have to buy in sperm from other centres around the country.

"This is expensive so we need our own supply.

"The advantage of having family men is that they are proven to be fertile. Secondly they have had families and have time to discuss the matter with their families. They are generally more mature and can think about what they are doing. If we were to use students we would be open to charges of exploitation of people who simply want a little beer money."

The hospital suspended its donor programme as a nationwide review of policy took place.

It was feared the review, by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, would ban the payment of expenses to donors and would give their offspring the right to trace their natural fathers.

But few changes have been made in the rules and the Women's Hospital has now launched a fresh recruitment campaign.

Dr Tomlinson said a donor could father up to ten children. Up to 200 people will have to be recruited to give the hospital 20 donors.

Donors cannot simply walk in and donate - they have to undergo thorough screening to ensure they are fertile and that they do not have sexually transmitted diseases such as Aids.

Would-be parents are allowed to select the eye, hair colour and body build of the father. They are not given details of IQ but can see a short description of the donor's interests.
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Author:Hunt, Jon
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 2, 1999
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