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Milwaukee Losing War on Infertility?
Across the nation, sperm and egg donations and the demand for fertility treatments are on the rise, but in Milwaukee, resources are limited. And they could be dwindling even further. The only sperm bank in town, Great Lakes Cryobank on the South Side, no longer accepts donations and is expected to close at the end of the month because of the recent death of its lead physician.
Also, there are only two board-certified fertility specialists in the Milwaukee area employed at in-vitro fertilization clinics, offices specializing in the implantation of fertilized eggs into the womb. The rare specialists are Dr. Estil Strawn at the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Reproductive Medicine Clinic and Dr. Frank Wittmaack at the Aurora Women’s Pavilion.
More women are seeking fertility treatments than in past decades because they miss prime child-bearing years as they pursue careers or an education. Other women seek the treatments to give birth in a second, later marriage. Nationally, supply is meeting demand. Amidst the recession, men are lining up at sperm banks to receive $35 to $50 per donation. The world’s largest sperm bank, the California Cryobank, saw a 15 percent increase in donations between third quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009.
But sperm banks like the one closing soon in Milwaukee are relatively rare and a challenge to run. “This is simply because the cost to run these centers is so high, and they are heavily regulated by the FDA and other accrediting agencies,” Strawn says.