Monday, February 05, 2007

Sperm Banks' Screening Too Strict (No Altruistic Purpose Here)

Spectator News
(Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin)
Jacob McCormick
Issue Date: Feb. 5, 2007

In an episode of "That 70s Show," Kelso finally gets a job he enjoys that pays enough money for Jackie's birthday present. We soon find out his "job" was actually donating sperm in Milwaukee. Seems like an easy way to make money, especially if Kelso was allowed to do it. Apparently, after doing some research, that couldn't be more wrong.
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Last semester, I was joking around with a few fellow staffers at The Spectator about donating sperm. Because of my constant need for money to cover my extravagant spending budget, I decided to look into actually donating.
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I figured it couldn't be more painful than giving plasma twice a week. At a minimum income of $100 per accepted sample, according to the Genetics and IVF Cryobank Web site, it is a much more profitable venture than plasma, even though the nearest sperm donation center is located in Roseville, Minn.
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The first step in the rigorous preparation is learning about the potential sperm donor's present and past health history through a screening that takes about a week to process, according to the Cryobank Web site. In addition to the basic information found on any medical application (height, weight, personal issues and features, etc.), other questions include possible birth defects in the family history, sexual orientation and travel history.
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If a potential donor passes through the first stage and is notified of such via e-mail, he is required to fill out another online questionnaire outlining his sexual history, according to the Web site. The process is designed to be tough and according to Docshop.com, a Web site connecting medical patients with doctors specializing in specific fields of practice, immediate disqualification can occur if a donor fails to meet the standards in even one question or category.
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Once an aspiring donor manages to qualify for a donation after filling out all of the paper work, there is still a long road ahead physically before he is officially accepted into the program.
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The first step in the final stage of the screening process is a standard physical comparable to the ones required before playing a sport in high school, according to Cryobank. It includes checking eyesight, hearing and reflexes.
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A renal ultrasound is then performed to check the health of a donor's kidneys, their circulatory system and bladder. According to their Web site, Cryobank also takes a sample of blood before proceeding with testing the donor's sperm.
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The qualifications for the actual semen test are very strict. The initial sperm sample is checked for a count and overall mobility. Cryobank states on their Web site that only men with an unusually high sperm count can donate to ensure an abundance of healthy sperm in each sample. Because of this, Docshop.com states that only about five percent of applicants are accepted as donors.
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If a donor passes through all of the seemingly tiring testing procedures, they will then be asked to produce their first sperm sample in a private room. Cryobank conveniently offers reading material at no charge.
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The sperm is collected in a sterile container and stored in liquid nitrogen to be used in the possible conception of 10 children, according to Docshop.com.
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One donation, however, isn't enough, as Cryobank asks donors to come in a minimum of once a week for six months after the first donation in order to compensate for the costs of all the medical testing.
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The one thing that was a big concern to me when I was considering donating sperm was the confidentiality of my name and the legal issues that may be involved with indirectly fathering a child. However, Cryobank's Web site states that all names are withheld and that the donor does not have to worry about child support or anything of that nature.
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The monetary compensation for donating sperm is definitely worth the procedure and it isn't a waste of time to look into donating. But given the rare chance of actually becoming a donor, I think I'll stay master of my domain and continue donating plasma.

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