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3) Reeling in Fertile Fellers
Thanks mostly to diminished sperm quality, some Israeli sperm banks are facing a shortage of sperm donors.
“We had to lower the criteria in order to have enough sperm donors,” Haimov-Kochman said, referring to the Hadassah Medical Center’s sperm bank. “It seems that now about two-thirds of the applicants for sperm donation go home without donating because they have poor quality. We reject a lot.”
The Hadassah clinic tries to entice a larger pool of donors with cash: For each sperm sample, a donor earns 1000 shekels, or about $300. “It’s a nice monthly salary if you’re a Hadassah sperm donor,” Haimov-Kochamn said.
The staff of Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center sperm bank, where only 10% of applicants have sperm of acceptable quality, took a different approach to luring new donors. About three years ago, they teamed up with a local graphic design school to produce catchy advertisements aimed at male college students.
The results were humorous and, in some cases, shocking. “Think you’re God’s gift to women? Prove it,” one ad reads. Another depicts a box of tissues, along with the phrase “It’s in your hands.” In a third, the words “Giving sperm: it’s a lot more pleasant than giving blood,” appear next to a winking baby.
Despite the catchy ad blitz, Rambam still struggles to keep sperm in the bank.
“We have 10 donors, and this is not enough,” said Dr. Shahar Kol, director of Rambam’s sperm bank. “We always need more.”
But not everyone agrees that sperm stocks are going down the tubes. Dr. Jacob Ronen, CEO of CryoBank Israel, Israel’s self-proclaimed “largest and most respected” sperm bank, said his company has no trouble finding donors. CryoBank Israel has almost 100 donors, despite accepting only 1 in 80 applicants as suitable for its stocks. It has a team of four employees dedicated to recruiting potential donors. “In order to get donors, you have to work,” Ronen said.
4) Jewish Sperm Is in Demand
Jewish sperm is overrepresented in the vaults of California Cryobank, the largest U.S. sperm bank, which has locations in Los Angeles, New York, Boston and Palo Alto. Though Jews represent less than 2% of the adult population of America, they represent over 12% of the bank’s donors, according to Scott Brown, director of communications.
At the New York branch of Cryos International, another prominent sperm distributor, Jews account for 8% of donors. Even so, these American sperm banks face the same problem Israeli sperm banks have: They want more Jews. “There always seem to be a shortage of Jewish donors,” Brown said.
This dearth of men willing to donate is not confined to the Jewish community. “We always need more of basically any minority,” Brown said. Many parents request a specific ethnicity or religious background for their donor but don’t want to be limited to just a few donors because of it.