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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > Public Health -

Two men “ran illegal sperm donor agency”

Public HealthSep 13, 10

Two men earned 250,000 pounds through an unlicensed fertility company matching sperm donors with women trying to conceive, a court heard on Monday.

Under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, a licence is needed by anyone wanted to “procure, test or distribute” any sperm or eggs.

The two defendants are the first to be prosecuted under the Act, the Press Association reported.

Nearly 800 women had signed up to use the online service provided by the company, operating under various names including Sperm Direct Limited and First4Fertility, Southwark Crown Court in London heard.

Nigel Woodforth, 43, ran the firm from the basement of his home in Reading, Berkshire, with 49-year-old Ricky Gage.

Philip Bennetts, prosecuting, said: “In short, the website introduced men who wished to supply sperm to women who wished to use the sperm to impregnate themselves in order to have a child.”

After paying an 80-pound joining fee and 300 pounds to use the service, the women would then choose from a list of men before the sperm was delivered to their homes through a courier company at the price of 150 pounds per delivery.

Gage and Woodforth face two charges of procuring gametes intended for human application, both of which they deny.

They had been warned by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) that they would need a licence to operate the company under new rules introduced in July 2007.

The law was brought in to ensure that both donors and women wanting to conceive had access to information and counselling, and to help protect against the risks of diseases including HIV.

Gage and Woodforth were arrested in April 2009 after an undercover police investigation.

A male officer posed online first as a potential sperm donor, and then as a woman called Angie Williams, seeking a donor.

The court heard that the pair’s website promised women a “life-changing opportunity”.

A message to potential clients read: “You have taken the first step towards letting us help you try to fulfil your dreams of the baby you have always longed for.

“We offer women a life-changing opportunity towards motherhood.”

Women were allowed to choose the ethnicity, height, hair colour and even hobbies of the sperm donor they wanted to use.

They could then contact the donor themselves and arrange for the delivery of his sperm to their home, either for self-insemination or through IVF. Recipients were advised to negotiate the payment of expenses to the donor, and to arrange medical tests, themselves.

Both defendants claim they operated an introduction service and did not need a licence as stipulated by the HFEA Act.

LONDON (Reuters)

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