Manchester Sperm Donor Drive kicks off at Rochdale Rugby Club

1st December 2010

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Players from Rochdale Mayfield Rugby Club have kicked off a North West drive to recruit more sperm donors at a ‘Strong Swimmers Challenge’ held by Manchester sperm donor bank Manchester Fertility and the National Gamete Donation Trust (NGDT).

The 24-strong team of lads who are all aged between 18 and 37 – the ideal age to be sperm donors –were originally reluctant to consider becoming sperm donors. Only four members of the team were willing to become sperm donors at the start of the hour-long session, which was held at the club’s training ground in Castleton.

But after hearing from 42-year-old Manchester sperm donor Mark Jackson, and from Nottingham couple Sarah and Sean Betts, who had twins through donated sperm, a further 10 team members said they would look into becoming sperm donors themselves.

Joanne Adams, Senior Andrologist at Manchester Fertility, and Laura Witjens from the NGDT, explained to the players exactly what is involved in becoming a sperm donor. 500 sperm donors are needed every year in the UK to meet demand, but there is a rising shortage of donors across the country.

The ‘Strong Swimmers Challenge’ is part of the NGDT’s ‘Have You Got the Balls?’ sports-themed campaign, which targets men who otherwise may not consider becoming sperm donors.

Joanne Adams said: “It was very interesting to hear from the lads at the start of the session. Many of them had completely got their facts wrong about being a sperm donor, thinking that they were financially responsible for any resulting children, or that they would actually be paid for donating sperm.

“The event gave us a chance to show the boys in real terms what it’s like to be a sperm donor, and ultimately what your donation can achieve – namely giving someone a family which otherwise wouldn’t happen.”

Laura Witjens, from the NGDT, said: “It’s really reassuring to see lads in this age group considering becoming sperm donors. Many men this age don’t give it a second thought, so the fact that they are now thinking about it is really positive.”

21-year-old John Marsland from Castleton, Rochdale, who is a scrum half for Rochdale Mayfield Rugby Club, said: “We had no idea what the session was about beforehand, so we all gave a completely honest answer when asked if we’d donate sperm at the start.

“I originally said I wouldn’t, but when I saw the couple with the twins, and heard from Mark, it really showed me how important it is. I genuinely didn’t realise there was so few donors available, donating sperm was something that had never even crossed my mind.

“But I would hope that if I ever had a problem with infertility, then someone like Mark would be there for me. I’m definitely going to explore it further.”

To find out more about becoming a sperm donor, visit or

ENDS November 2010

Notes to editors:

Infertility Facts:

  • 1 in 6 couples in the UK have fertility problems and need help to conceive
  • Male infertility accounts for around a third of all cases treated at Manchester Fertility
  • There are many reasons why couples need to use donor sperm, such as a risk of passing on a severe inherited disease, or the male partner simply not producing any sperm at all. Donor sperm is also used to help same-sex couples and single women achieve pregnancy.
  • In an NGDT survey, men ranked having a healthy sperm count and good quality sperm higher than being successful at work, good-looking or popular with women.

Sperm donor facts:

  • Sperm donors are men from all walks of life - if you’re aged between 18 and 44 with a healthy medical record, you could be a sperm donor.
  • If you become a registered sperm donor, you have no financial, legal or moral responsibility for any future children.
  • Any children conceived through your donated sperm can apply for information about you when they turn 18. You can provide a short bio about yourself when you donate.
  • For more facts, visit


  • The National Gamete Donation Trust (NGDT) appealed for sports teams throughout the North West to take up the Strong Swimmers Challenge. Rochdale Mayfield Rugby Club responded to an advert in their local paper.
    • The NGDT is a Government-funded charity dedicated to increasing the numbers of sperm, egg and embryo donors in the UK and raising awareness of the national shortage of donors.
    • To find out more about the NGDT, visit or call 0845 226 9193.
    • Manchester Fertility, founded in 1986 by Professor Brian Lieberman, is one of the region’s leading infertility treatment clinics and sperm banks which treats many people across the North West who need to use donor sperm to get pregnant. It also offers infertility treatments such as IVF, ICSI, egg donation and egg-sharing programmes. Visit and


  • High resolution and web-ready images are available on request.

Last updated: 27th January 2020