April 16, 2024

Sperm donation is big business

In 5 years’ time, it will be worth nearly US$5 billion

Another chapter in the Reproductive Revolution. According to a leading market research firm, by 2027, the market for commercial sperm will be worth US$4.86 billion. Its report says that growth in revenue is being driven by a rise in male and female infertility, supportive government initiatives, and growing social acceptance worldwide.

This news coincided with yet another story about fertility fraud by an American doctor, this time in the Des Moines Register. Iowa man Mark Hansen learned at the age of 47 that his biological father was Dr Sidney Yugend – his mother’s doctor. It was a devastating revelation.

Doctors in 20 states have been accused of using their own sperm for their patients, according to Traci Portugal, the child of an accused doctor donor and administrator of the Donor Deceived website, which charts fertility fraud.

Donor Deceived says that American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends a birth limit of 25 offspring per donor per population of 800,000. Back of the envelope calculations suggest that this hypothetical donor would have 269 offspring in New York State or 10,225 offspring in the USA or even 240,625 offspring globally. “How would you like to have 10,000 Half Siblings?” it asks.

The website catalogues known examples of sperm donors in groups: 25 to 50 siblings, 50 to 100, 100 to 200, 200 to 500, and over 500. The most prolific is a British doctor, Bertold Wiesner, who may have been the biological father of more than 600 children.

With the rise of sperm banks and IVF clinics, the temptation for doctors to service their patients personally may have decreased. However, as an article in The Atlantic pointed out this week, women are now searching for sperm on Facebook from groups like Sperm Donation USA. No one is keeping track of how many children these men have sired.

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge

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