A lifetime dream: the creation of a family

The birth of a child is not always an easy procedure. For an infertile single woman without a partner, or a couple facing severe male infertility, predisposition for hereditary disorders or having repeatedly failed to conceive through assisted reproductive methods, the creation of their own progeny is a dream that cannot come true, limiting the choices to childlessness or adoption. The only alternative is assisted reproduction by use of sperm donation.

CRYOGONIA is a Sperm Bank established in 2012 to offer services in the field of donor sperm freezing, cryopreservation and provision of anonymous donor sperm.
Our goal is to contribute in a positive way to the successful outcome of the reproductive effort of the people requesting our services, with professionalism, discretion, confidentiality and sensitivity.

Before making such a serious decision, it is required by law that the interested parties are analytically informed and give their written consent. The specialized scientific personnel of CRYOGONIA are always happy and willing to discuss with you the details of the procedure and answer all your questions. During a private meeting, before the onset of the ART attempt, you have the opportunity to learn all the steps of the procedure, describe the characteristics and any other necessary detail that may determine the best choice of donor.

Standards

CRYOGONIA Sperm Bank complies with the Greek legal requirements, regarding the freezing, storage and provision of frozen semen. All processes are standardized according to a strict Internal and External Quality Control System under the specifications of the international certification standard EN ISO 9001:2008, in collaboration with scientific centers in Greece and Europe.

In view of offering optimized quality services, adapted to international standards, CRYOGONIA constantly follows the directives of distinct scientific organizations, i.e. World Health Organization (W.H.O.), European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), British Fertility Society (BFS), British Andrology Society (BAS), Association of Biomedical Andrologists, Association of Clinical Embryologists, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, e.t.c.

In order to provide the most comprehensive donor sperm banking services, CRYOGONIA is also in current collaboration with international sperm banks, so as to expand the selection range of available donors.

Donor screening

All candidate donors are submitted to thorough investigation, including semen, blood and genetic examination. Specifically:

Conventional parameters: a conventional semen analysis is conducted in order to evaluate the basic semen parameters (semen volume, sperm count, motility, morphology by Strict Tygerberg Criteria, vitality) according to the approved guidelines of ESHRE and WHO, i.e. by expert laboratory technicians using miscroscopic assessment and NOT by automated systems (Computer Assisted Sperm Analysis).

Only the candidates whose semen quality is found high above the internationally recognized reference ranges are selected.

Sperm function tests: several sperm function tests, evaluating for instance the ability of the spermatozoa to perform the acrosome reaction or sperm DNA integrity, are applied in view of selecting the samples exhibiting the best fertility potential.

Post thaw recovery and longevity tests: given that all donor semen samples may be safely provided only after freeze-thawing, a post thaw recovery and longevity test is being performed. Since the endurance of human spermatozoa under deep freezing conditions cannot be predicted, the performance of this test determines the samples that sustain a high percentage of motile spermatozoa surviving for many hours after thawing, in order to increase the fertilization rates.

Microbiological screening: a complete microbiological examination is performed, testing for the presence of fungi, Trichomonas, common bacteria (aerobic-anaerobic) and Mycoplasma/Ureaplasma, Chlamydia.

All samples are checked for the sexually transmissible diseases that are required by Greek law, i.e. antibodies for HIVI/II, HbsAg, anti-HCV, RPR. Furthermore, according to international standards, the samples are examined for HIV I/II antigens, HBV and HCV by NAT testing (Polymerase Chain Reaction), as well as IgM antibodies against Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Herpes simplex virus (HSV -1/-2)and HTLV I/II. The frozen donor semen samples are released only if the above mentioned tests are found negative within 6 months after the collection.
All donors are tested for the following genetic traits:

  • Blood group / Rh
  • Karyotypic profile
  • Cystic fibrosis (the genetic mutations corresponding to approximately 90-98% of the ones present to the Greek population are screened – note that until today it is technically impossible to screen all the mutations of the cystic fibrosis gene)
  • α- and β- thalassaemia
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA)

CRYOGONIA collaborates with certified specialized scientific laboratories and University reference centers in order to conduct the cytogenetic testing of the candidate donors.

Additional genetic tests may be performed under specific demand, the cost of which is covered by the recipients.

Even in the general population there may be a possibility that a pregnancy may lead to a birth of a child with an abnormality. This may be due to factors that are impossible to control or due to a random event. Furthermore, it is not technically feasible to screen all known diseases and the applied methodologies provide a certainty range for their results that reaches about 99%, according to relevant scientific data.

Assisted reproduction by use of donor sperm, like any reproductive procedure, is not fully exempted from unforeseen risks that may be involved in every natural pregnancy. However, the strict selection criteria the donor candidates must meet and the rigorous testing that they undergo, aims to ensure that the transmission risk of infectious, hereditary or genetic disease will be exceptionally minimized.

Donor semen is exclusively frozen and remains in quarantine for at least 6 months before release, provided that the repeat blood tests for the sexually transmissible diseases are found negative.

Due to the severity of the selection criteria, less than 10% of candidate donors are finally accepted to participate in the Donor Sperm Bank program of CRYOGONIA.

Points of interest

According to Greek law, sperm donation in Greece is anonymous. Therefore, the identity of the donor shall not be disclosed to the recipient, neither will the identity of the recipient or the identity of the child or children born as a result of the attempted assisted reproduction method shall ever be disclosed to the donor of the genetic material.

Medical information regarding the donor are kept under complete secrecy in codified form in the Cryopreservation Bank and in the national registry of donors and recipients that must be kept by the National Authority for Medically Assisted Reproduction. Access to this file is allowed only to the child and solely for reasons relevant to his/her health.

According to Greek law, the maximum number of children born from the same donor is restricted to ten (10), unless a recipient family who has already given birth to a child, wishes to have a sibling by use of the same donor’s sample.

In case of successful birth, the recipients expressly undertake the responsibility to inform CRYOGONIA in order to update the donor’s records.

CRYOGONIA’s reserve policy dictates the cryopreservation of a specific number of samples from each donor. Recipients who wish to reserve samples of the same donor for future use, must contact directly and on time the scientific personnel of CRYOGONIA, in order to make the necessary arrangements.

By reserving several samples of the same donor, you can ensure that the required quantity of sperm will be readily available at any time: either for new reproductive cycles or in view of creating a biological sibling of a first child that has been conceived.

Before making your decision about the number of samples to reserve, it would be useful to consult your doctor.

According to Greek law, donor sperm cannot be released unless the recipients have given their written informed consent to the Cryopreservation Bank.

In the case of recipient couples, both partners must give their written informed consent on a special document provided by the Cryopreservation Bank. Married couples must present a recent valid marriage certificate and photocopies of their identity cards. Unmarried partners must present a copy of their legal documentation declaring their union, as well as identity card photocopies.

A single unmarried woman – recipient is also required to give her written informed consent on a special document provided by the Cryopreservation Bank, as well as a copy of her legal documentation declaring her marital status, a copy of a special notary deed declaring her intention to undergo assisted reproduction by use of donor sperm and identity card photocopy.

The scientific personnel of CRYOGONIA is always happy to provide you with analytical information in a private meeting, by appointment at least 2 working days before the date that you will need to use the sample, as determined by your doctor. Additionally, you are also advised to seek legal advice with regard to the necessary legal documentation.

According to Greek law:

  • The use of fresh (neat) donor semen is forbidden.
  • The use of semen originating from more than one donor in the same reproductive cycle is forbidden.
  • Any commercial activity (i.e. buying-selling) regarding the provision of semen is forbidden. The financial cost that the recipient has to pay covers all the legal expenses that are required in order for the gametes to be safely provided from the donor to the recipient. These include the costs for the medical and laboratory examinations of the donor and his semen, the donor’s compensation, the freezing, cryopreservation, release and transfer costs of the samples.
  • The child born after the successful application of the assisted reproduction method using donor sperm shall have as its legal mother the wife/spouse and as its legal father the husband/partner. The consent of the husband/partner to the wife/spouse being subjected to heterologous in-vitro fertilization prohibits any objection to paternity.

In order to receive additional information regarding the legal aspects of the procedure, you are also advised to seek legal advice.

FAQs

Following your doctor’s advice regarding the time frame of the assisted reproductive procedure, contact CRYOGONIA in order to arrange an appointment with the scientific personnel.

In a private meeting the scientific experts of CRYOGONIA describe all the steps of the procedure and discuss with you all your questions. Additionally, the phenotypic characteristics and all other type of information that will facilitate the selection of the most appropriate donor are recorded.

During the meeting you must present all the required documentation and you will be asked to complete the written informed consent form, which is necessary for the following steps.

When your doctor determines the exact date and time that the sample will be needed, the Sperm Bank is notified and the sample is transferred directly to the Assisted Reproduction Unit (Fertility Clinic) of your choice.

During the donor selection procedure, it is important to bear in mind the phenotypic characteristics of the recipients, as well as the blood groups/Rh. The donor whose general profile combines in the best possible way with the recipients’ profile is selected.

The donor selection process may also be performed by the Assisted Reproduction Unit (Fertility Clinic). Alternatively, during your meeting with the scientific personnel of the Sperm Bank, you can have the opportunity to describe the characteristics of your choice which will be taken into consideration for the donor selection.

The scientific personnel of CRYOGONIA are in direct personal contact with the collaborating donors and are willing to provide you with analytical information regarding their phenotypic characteristics, their personality or any other descriptive trait that will nevertheless not reveal their identity.

Please be informed that the children born after assisted reproductive methods using donor sperm shall also bear the chromosomal characteristics of the donor. However, there can be no prediction or guarantee regarding the phenotypic and genetic characteristics of these children.

Analytical non-identifying information regarding the donor’s profile is available in the offices of CRYOGONIA. These data are available to you only for your personal briefing and cannot be publicized or communicated to third parties.

Information regarding the donor is recorded as a basic profile, including his age, ethnic origin, hair colour, eye colour, skin colour, height, weight, blood group/Rh, psychological evaluation, studies, profession, as well as any possible pregnancies reported in his personal life. In addition, the scientific personnel of CRYOGONIA state their impression about the donor, based on their personal contact with him.

An extended profile of the donor is also available to you. This outlines the donor’s answers to several questions describing his everyday habits, views, personality and family history.

Here are some of the questions that the donors answer:

  • My parents taught me to appreciate…
  • My personal achievements so far are…
  • My talents and inclinations are…
  • What are the strong points of your character…
  • What are the weak points of your character…
  • My life philosophy is…
  • My favorite sports, hobbies and interests are…
  • Why do you wish to become a donor…
  • If you could convey a message to the recipients of your donation, what would that be?
According to Greek law, donor sperm cannot be released unless the recipients have given their written informed consent to the Cryopreservation Bank.

In the case of recipient couples, both partners must give their written informed consent on a special document provided by the Cryopreservation Bank. Married couples must present a recent valid marriage certificate and photocopies of their identity cards. Unmarried partners must present a copy of their legal documentation declaring their union, as well as identity card photocopies.

A single unmarried woman – recipient is also required to give her written informed consent on a special document provided by the Cryopreservation Bank, as well as a copy of her legal documentation declaring her marital status, a copy of a special notary deed declaring her intention to undergo assisted reproduction by use of donor sperm and identity card photocopy.

The scientific personnel of CRYOGONIA is always happy to provide you with analytical information in a private meeting, by appointment at least 2 working days before the date that you will need to use the sample, as determined by your doctor. Additionally, you are also advised to seek legal advice with regard to the necessary legal documentation.

Please check the above “written consent and documentation”.

If you wish the whole reserve of a donor’s semen which is cryopreserved in CRYOGONIA to be exclusively released for your use, it is possible to arrange an exclusive reservation. In this way, all the donor’s samples that have been donated and cryopreserved in CRYOGONIA and have not been provided by CRYOGONIA to other recipients, are reserved for your own exclusive, personal future use.

More detailed information regarding this process is available by direct contact with the scientific personnel of CRYOGONIA.

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