We began collecting donated sperm and eggs in the Sperm and Egg Bank at the Reproductive Medicine Unit in November 2019. In the year under review, we accepted 338 referrals for infertility treatments using donated gametes.

“Donated gametes may be needed by straight couples, single women wanting a child or women couples. A significant percentage of our customers are single women,” says Hanna Savolainen-Peltonen, Chief Physician of the Reproductive Medicine Unit at HUS.

For donated sperm, we accepted about 140 referrals for women wanting a child alone, about 80 referrals for women couples and about 30 referrals for straight couples. We accepted about 70 referrals for treatment with donated eggs.

The image shows referrals accepted for infertility treatments with donated gametes in 2020. Patients requiring infertility treatments with donated gametes are a new patient group at the Reproductive Medicine Unit, and we have been building a care pathway for them during the year under review.

Coronavirus pandemic affected infertility treatments

We performed our first inseminations using donated sperm in May. We had begun treatments using donated eggs in February 2020, but these were put on hold from March to August because of the coronavirus situation.  The first woman to become pregnant with donated gametes is expected to give birth in early 2021. 

The coronavirus pandemic affected our infertility treatments substantially across the board. We were forced to suspend more than 200 planned courses of infertility treatment, from mid-April to early June. 

“By early autumn, our waiting list had unfortunately extended to six months. We did manage to relieve the backlog, though, and we hope to be able to provide prompter assistance for people wanting children going forward. However, we should note that infertility treatments using donated gametes are not covered by the treatment time guarantee,” says Savolainen-Peltonen.

More sperm donors needed

When we opened the HUS Sperm and Egg Bank, the number of potential donors who got in touch was a positive surprise. In 2020, we had 20 to 30 suitable donors of both sperm and eggs. By law, gametes donated by one donor can be used for a maximum of five families. 

“Our greatest need is for donated sperm, because most of our patients needing donated gametes need sperm in particular to get pregnant. We do need eggs, too, because we have dozens of patients still waiting for treatment,” says Savolainen-Peltonen.  

The initial number of potential donors was a positive surprise in all hospital districts that accept donated gametes.  

“However, active contacts decreased in the autumn, possibly because of the coronavirus pandemic. We are constantly on the lookout for suitable donors who can help us help our patients.”

In 2020, our Reproductive Medicine Unit performed more than 800 in vitro fertilizations, more than 850 frozen embryo transplantations and about 1,000 inseminations. These include both treatments with the patients’ own gametes and treatments with donated gametes.