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Sperm Donor Offspring Number Called Into Question?

April 11, 2014

Donor insemination has been a very successful treatment for many women. The article takes a very negative stance towards sperm donor banks and their practices. In the early days of donor, both sperm and egg, the number quoted in the article of limiting offspring to 25 per metropolitan area of 800,000. This was to minimize the risk of consanguinity by marriage of half siblings. This original number was very conservative and delivered an extremely low risk. Most banks are national or international and service the entire country. If you took a modest population for US Cities of 200 million, a donor could using the logic, safely have 5000 pregnancies without increased risk of consanguinity. This of course assumes the pregnancies are evenly distributed geographically which likely is not the case. Even still, 150 or less pregnancies for a national bank compared to 5000 is relatively insignificant.

Our national group, ASRM is stating, we need to look at the recommendations again for their validity. I think this is fine but I believe the outcome will be as I’ve suggested. So not to worry about the donor process. Another thought is that if people are not OK with donor siblings, it doesn’t matter whether it’s one or 150 really. I think really the sibling registry may not be such a great idea. I think it puts an undue emotional burden on the child / person to find and explore these relationships. This to me, adds a great deal of undue stress on someone who is dealing with some stress to begin with. The old adage, “what one doesn’t know won’t hurt them,” probably applies here. It might be better to just know it’s there but not know the specifics. These are just personal thoughts and I’m sure someone could take the opposite stance and make a good argument. There is no right answer.

The last comment I would bring up concerns cost. Since I’ve been in practice, donor sperm has gone from $150 to $450+ in 17 years. Much of this is due to government regulation and the added layers of cost for very minimal benefit in most instances. The suggested regulation by the article. Sperm banks despite the claims in the article are not making fortunes on the backs of these guys who donate. Rather the regulatory burden has held down significant profit potential. They are a business and as such have to pay the bills, but in my experience, they are not topping the dow jones stock charts. The bank can screen one donor and freeze many specimens. If limits are placed fewer specimens would be able to be stored resulting in much higher cost and the possible unavailability of sperm for direct (in-family) sibling use.

Would love to hear other comments on this issue:

Dr. Fox

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