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Getting to Know You

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a blog by Michelle Ottey, PhD, Director of Operations, Fairfax Cryobank and Cryogenic Laboratories, Inc., September 22, 2010

I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard clients say that they end up knowing more facts about a sperm donor than they know about their partner.

Three Generations of Medical History

When choosing donor sperm many people are amazed at the amount of medical and personal information that is presented. Browsing through the medical profile of a donor gives you more factual medical information than many people know about their partner: three generations of medical health history, causes of death and treatments for disease. When prospective donors are screening, they are asked to report this information. Many times there is a series of e-mails or phone calls between him and his mom or dad clarifying all of the information.

We once had a prospective donor on the phone with his mom while in the medical interview to clarify his grandmother’s health. When he told his mom why he needed the information, you could hear her laughing on the other end of the phone, then talking to her son. When he got off the phone, he told us that she was so proud of him for doing this, especially because his aunt had had problems conceiving. He was a little embarrassed, but it was very touching.

Healthy Happy Sperm

Each sample from every donor is analyzed before it is frozen. You can be confident in the health of the donor’s sperm. Most sperm banks screen thousands of prospective donors in order to find men with above-average sperm. We are looking for samples that have higher numbers of sperm, sperm that move more and better, and sperm that are healthy enough to survive the freezing process.

Interesting Insight into Their Personality

Many banks provide some sort of personality profile on their donors — either as a questionnaire or audio interview. I have always loved sitting down with the donors to complete an audio interview. It gives you a good view of who they are and what is important to them. We ask questions about their favorite books, favorite childhood memories, aspirations for the future, and what message he would like to share with any offspring, among many other things. It is always especially poignant to listen to these wonderful men sharing their thoughtful messages. Not every donor has a perfect message, but the answers are always enlightening to their personality and to gaining a whole picture of who they are.

The Whole Package

There is so much information available now that many people feel they are able to form a whole picture of who this man is. In the past the secrecy and stigma around infertility was perpetuated by a lack of openness and information sharing. You will see now that the best Sperm Banks are evolving to meet the needs of their clients and that this is being fueled by the openness and acceptance in society — or maybe it is the other way around.

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