EAST Lancashire does not have a single registered sperm donor, it has been revealed.

And now men in the area are being urged to help childless couples' dreams come true and become donors.

Healthy supplies of sperm and egg donors are vital to the continuing success of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatments.

But officials have confirmed that there are no registered sperm donors within the Blackburn, Burnley, Pendle, Ribble Valley, Hyndburn and Rossendale areas.

The only other place with no donors is Northumberland.

London has the most with scores of donors.

Supporters of the Infertility Network UK (INUK) said that more campaiging needs to be done to reverse the 'worrying' trend.

Law changes, which removed the legal right to anonymity for sperm donors, introduced in 2005, are being blamed by infertility campaigners.

This is disputed by Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA) chiefs, who point out that the numbers of donors rose from 2004 to 2005.

But Susan Seenan, INUK spokesman, said the trend had been downwards for the past decade, after changes in legislation were first suggested. The national total for 2000 was 325 registrations and numbers have fallen generally since then.

Ms Sheenan said: "It is a huge issue of concern for us. There is a major shortage of both sperm and egg donors.

"There is nowhere near the amount needed for the number of patients accessing treatment.

"Some clinics are not even taking on patients for their waiting lists because there is such a shortage at the moment."

"Lancashire is quite a large area not to have any sperm donors. But it is representative of the picture across England.

"We need some kind of campaign which will encourage people to become sperm or egg donors in future."

Paula Woodward, a spokesman for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) denied that the anonymity issue had affected donor numbers.

She said that the number of donors rose from 2004 (248) to 2005 (259).

She said that improvements in IVF technology, where sperm are injected more easily into eggs, had led to less demand for sperm donors.

One factor possibly affecting the amount of donors in Lancashire was the availability of clinics. The nearest are based in Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds.

The HFEA released the figures and calculated that no East Lancashire men were donors by checking the addresses of those registered.