Entries in Sperm Bank (3)


Did Sperm Bank Founder Father 600 Children?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- A British sperm bank founder who guaranteed his customers sperm from "above-average" donors apparently made good on his promise by secretly using his own sperm, and may have fathered as many as 600 children in the process.

Austrian-born biologist Bertold Wiesner and his wife, Dr. Mary Barton, created the London-based Barton clinic in the early 1940s. By the time the clinic shut its doors in the 1960s, the couple had used artificial insemination to help infertile middle- and upper-class couples produce about 1,500 children. Dr. Barton said in the 1950s that she and her husband guaranteed that "all donors were drawn from intelligent stock" and no donors were accepted unless they were "a little above average."

Wiesner died in 1972 and his wife died ten years later. Dr. Barton destroyed all the clinic's medical records before her death. The couple had supposedly used sperm donations from their family friends to impregnate clients, with an attempt to match the physical characteristics of the clients.

DNA tests conducted on 18 people conceived at the clinic between 1943 and 1962, however, found that Wiesner was the father of 12.

According to reports in the British media, one of Wiesner's biological offspring, David Gollancz, has established contact with 11 other children produced with Wiesner's sperm. Gollancz told London's Sunday Times that Wiesner could have provided at least 20 samples per year over the life of the clinic, meaning he could have fathered 300 to 600 children.

"Using standard figures for the number of live births which result, including allowances for twins and miscarriages," said Gollancz, "I estimate that he is responsible for between 300 and 600 children."

In 1990, the British government placed a limit on the number of families that could receive sperm from the same donor. Information on the identity and medical history of the donors is now stored in case it is desired or needed by the children produced via the sperm.

Wiesner's practice of secretly using his own sperm is now outlawed, in part due to the danger that two of his offspring might meet unknowingly and have children of their own.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Women Skipping Both Banks for Free Online Sperm

Michael Abbey/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Using a sperm bank can quickly break the bank. That’s why a growing number of women have turned to the underground, online world of free sperm donation.

There are websites such as that offer a list of hundreds of men willing to donate free sperm to thousands of women eager to conceive.

“It’s a weird blend of Facebook, and a traditional sperm bank,” said Tony Dokoupil, a reporter who spent months investigating the subject for a Newsweek cover story. “You get all [the] medical information, about the health and fitness of this person you might procreate with.”

Watch ABC's 20/20 Friday at 10 p.m. ET for more on the new online world of free sperm donation

After finding a “match” online, women and donors often arrange to meet in public places such as a coffee house where the exchange takes place. The donor generally uses a sterile cup to make the donation in the bathroom. He then hands the sample to the recipient, who can inseminate herself using an “instead cup,” a disposable menstrual cup that fits onto the cervix, or she can take the sperm home or to a nearby hotel to inseminate with a drugstore syringe.

“Having a child is a big deal, and there’s a lot of people out there saying, ‘I don’t want to have a child with somebody that I haven’t talked to, that I can’t meet face to face,’” said Beth Gardner, who founded the Free Sperm Donor Registry website.

Gardner also emphasized the importance of having written agreements and knowing the health of the donor. “Make sure that everybody is writing down and putting their name on what it is that they’re agreeing to do,” she said. “We also highly encourage -- can’t even say how much we encourage -- STD testing.”

Fertility experts and those who monitor the websites caution women to be careful about whom they are meeting on the Internet. "Out there online, not everything is as it represents itself to be,” said Dr. Jessica Brown, a fertility specialist in New York who has helped dozens of women get pregnant.

It’s important to, “weed out men who may be doing this for bizarre reasons who may have some type of psychiatric illness or personality disorder,” she said.

Here are some of the main differences between sperm banks and free sperm donations:

Sperm Banks

  • Regulation:  Controlled by the Food and Drug Administration
  • Cost: A vial or unit of sperm ranges from $200 to $700. Insemination procedures start at $300 on average, with in vitro fertilization costing as much as $15,000.
  • Identity of Donors: Donors are anonymous. Open-ID donors allow their offspring to contact them once they are 18. A Directed Sperm Donor is someone selected by the woman or couple who voluntarily donates his sperm.
  • Parental Rights:  No parental rights
  • Sperm:  Frozen, which banks and doctors say is as effective as fresh
  • Method: Artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization
  • Screening and Tests: Tests are conducted for infectious diseases, STDs and genetic problems. Sperm is shelved for six months and then tested again before it’s available to recipients, as HIV and other STDs can take up to six months, after infection, to be detected. Some sperm banks conduct psychological screenings to detect pathological traits.

Free Sperm Donation

  • Regulation: Not controlled by the FDA
  • Cost: Free
  • Identity of Donors: Donors and recipients can meet face-to-face
  • Parental Rights: Recipients can ask donors to sign an agreement relinquishing parental rights. These agreements might not be legally binding.
  • Sperm:  Fresh
  • Method: Natural (sex) or artificial (syringe/"instead cup") insemination
  • Screening and Tests: Donors and recipients are responsible for their own STD testing and screening.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Redheads Rejected at Sperm Bank

George Doyle/Thinkstock(CYROS, Denmark) -- Cryos International is the world's largest sperm bank, shipping seed from millions of men to more than 65 countries around the globe. However, redheaded donors need not apply.

"There are too many redheads in relation to demand," the company's director Ole Schou tells the Danish newspaper Ekstrabladet. "I do not think you choose a redhead, unless the partner -- for example, the sterile male -- has red hair, or because the lone woman has a preference for redheads.

"And that's perhaps not so many, especially in the latter case."

Schou says the only country in which redheads are in demand is Ireland.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio