which are the reputable sperm banks? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 31 Old 01-23-2009, 10:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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#2 of 31 Old 01-23-2009, 10:40 AM
 
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ccb
nw andrology
midwest
xytex

i'm sure there are others!

g

my family - dp d heartbeat.gif, ds b biggrinbounce.gif (4), ds f thumbsuck.gif (2), dd a baby.gif (jan '12), ddog m dog2.gif
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#3 of 31 Old 01-23-2009, 10:49 AM
 
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We used The Sperm Bank of California (TSBC) in Berkeley (different than California Cryobank) and were very happy with it.

Pros:
-They will tell you the sperm count on all vials for free, and automatically ship out the vials with the highest numbers. This is probably at the top of my list for priorities.
-The only non-profit sperm bank in the country. This might not matter to some people, but it made me feel like their primary motivation might not be profit, and thus, they might be more ethically responsible to the clients.
-Very queer-friendly. The first bank to specifically serve lesbian families. Again, maybe this shouldn't matter, but it did to me. I hated the websites of all those banks with nothing but straight couples on them.
-Friendly in general. Everyone was always helpful and pleasant.
-A good number of identity-release donors available.
-Sibling inventory set aside.
-They have a donor sibling program that matches families with other families who've used the same donor.
-Shipping always happened without a glitch, and they were happy to ship directly to my house.
-As long as the vials haven't left the bank, they'll let you switch vials you've purchased for another donor for a small fee.
-They do not have pictures (child or adult), but they will do photo matching if you send them a picture of yourself or your partner.

Cons:
-On the expensive side.
-Sometimes you call and get voicemail, even during business hours. Frustrating when you're a crazy TTC demon.
-Not as much selection (especially for donors of color) as some of the bigger banks.
-Once you buy, you can't return, even if the vials haven't left the bank.

**Mods, could we start a sticky called "Sperm Bank Recommendations"? This question comes up periodically, and there are definitely pros and cons to the various banks...

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#4 of 31 Old 01-23-2009, 11:06 AM
 
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We used California Cryobank quite happily. Bonuses: They keep extra vials on hand to be used only for families hoping to conceive a sibling. Ordering was always easy, and the shipments always arrived on time. Large selection of donors. Lots of information available (i.e. baby photo, audio interview, long and short profiles). Our particular donor had great sperm numbers. Cons: They won't tell you the sperm numbers until after you've bought the sperm. More expensive than some other banks. They say that they limit donors to 10 families, but we have found this not to be the case at all (we've already found way more than 10 families who used our donor). Apparently they have a hard time keeping track.

If we had it to do over, knowing what I know now, I'd probably have gone with one of the banks that tells you the sperm numbers before you buy. I think numbers should be at the top of the list when deciding how to pick a donor.

HTH!

(And this thread is now STUCK, thanks for the suggestion, Angela!)

Lex

Mindfully mothering SIX kids (ages 4, 5, 7, 8, 11 & 11) in a small house with a lot of love.
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#5 of 31 Old 01-23-2009, 01:59 PM
 
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Hello,

I used Cryogenics Lab. I thought they were great. They give you alot of things for free.. like a baby picture.. essays.. some audio.. medical history. If I decide to have another one.. after this one.. I will go with them again.
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#6 of 31 Old 01-23-2009, 04:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks! Great info. I will look into every one of these.
So far I am looking at TSBC and love the profile depth- but I think xytex is the only one that gives actual adult photos-
Did anyone use xtex for that reason? I am considering if I want to shell out the 165 dollars to look at the photos. I wish all of them had photos!
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#7 of 31 Old 01-23-2009, 06:31 PM
 
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We used Xytex and we are very happy with them. The best thing about that $165 is that you can look at ALL the profiles for unlimited numbers of times for 3 months! Most banks, you have to pay individually for each long profile and pic that you want. And Xytex is the ony one that I know of that has adult pictures. There are some donors that have audio interviews and picture spans you can seperately order but you get most of the info on all donors for that one time fee.

You can also have the sperm shipped to your home for at home inseminations which is what we did. And they allowed our midwife to sign off on it. Plus, you can order your sperm through an online chat window with their reps which is kind of surreal and cool all at the same time. Helps cut down on the embarassment if you are shy about talking about sperm over the phone.

They also offer that for $35, they will give you the samples with the best counts out of the units they have available for that donor at the time you order. They won't tell you ahead of time what the numbers on your specific vials are, BUT they will give you a sampling of what the numbers on a certain donor are on average. We routinely got counts of 80 and 90 million motile sperm per ml.

They do allow a large number of pregnancies... I think it is 40 per donor. They may track regions and limit certain regions... so there won't 40 all in Michigan. 40 over the US doesn't seem so bad.

They were super nice, have great customer service and even have a "Sperm McGyver" on call to arrange emergency shipments if you ovulate early (we had to do that once).

The only draw back... cost. They are on the high end cost wise per vial, but I felt that we got our money's worth.

OH! And they have tons of willing to be known donors!

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#8 of 31 Old 01-23-2009, 07:36 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katie34 View Post
Thanks! Great info. I will look into every one of these.
So far I am looking at TSBC and love the profile depth- but I think xytex is the only one that gives actual adult photos-
Did anyone use xtex for that reason? I am considering if I want to shell out the 165 dollars to look at the photos. I wish all of them had photos!
Hey Katie,

TSBC does not give you photos to look at. But, you can send them a picture of your partner and they'll find the donor who looks most like them.

A, partner to J, mama to O, now with a new username!

Building queer family since 2008!

(and oh, did i mention we're having twins?!?)

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#9 of 31 Old 01-24-2009, 05:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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#10 of 31 Old 01-26-2009, 01:54 PM
 
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FYI...Fairfax Cryobank also offers adult photos. Although, not of all of their donors. They have to consent to it. They actually provide what they call "lifetime photos". We got a baby photo, 2 year old photo, 10 year old photo, 18 year old photo and two different adult photos. It was definitley a relief to find out our donor of choice was so handsome.

DS Alexander Joseph born 6/29/09
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#11 of 31 Old 01-26-2009, 02:18 PM
 
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I've had good luck with all of the banks mentioned here. I work the most with Midwest and Xytex because of cost and customer service issues. You might want to look into local banks as well. Some of them are reputable, just smaller or not as well known. Some of my clients get sperm from our local bank, International Cryogenics, and it means that they have a $40 courier fee instead of $150 or $200 shipping.

I think the big things that divide the banks from each other are cost, breadth of donors available, info on donors, identity release policies, donor screening/removal of donors with known issues, recipient screening/paperwork (do you need to see a doctor, a midwife, or can you just order yourself), ship to your house or just to a medical office, info on sperm quality, and availability of samples for IUI and ICI. Also ease of access to customer service.

There is some good info on lesbian-friendly sperm banks at the Human Rights Campaign website.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katie34 View Post
Does anyone know if it is possible to get International sperm? Meaning, if one has a fondness for a certain country can they order sperm from a bank from there?
A lot of the bigger banks have donors of many ethnicities, but the sperm itself generally comes from the U.S.. One bank I have worked with, Cryos New York, gets a lot of its sperm from Scandinavia.

Stacia -- intrepid mama, midwife, and doula. Changing the world one 'zine at a time.
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#12 of 31 Old 01-26-2009, 04:37 PM
 
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We're using Pacific Reproductive Services (PRS). They are lesbian-owned, fairly small (2000+ babies), and have two offices, in Pasadena CA and in the San Francisco Bay area. Most of their clients are lesbians, with a minority of single straight women as well. Mostly willing-to-be-known donors.

Very good interaction with the office staff -- prompt callbacks, helpful with questions about getting the timing right.

Geek. TTC since 09/2008. M/cs 01/2009, 12/2009. IVF 7/2009, 10/2009, 1/2010.
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#13 of 31 Old 01-30-2009, 12:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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#14 of 31 Old 01-31-2009, 11:40 AM
 
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We used "Cryobiology Lab" out of Ohio. We liked them because they we very friendly over the phone and in e-mail, they have a decent selction and we thought their prices were quite good. We narrowed our search down to 8 potential donors and then did photo matching on those 8. We got a 3 page document on which donor they thought was the best fit and why, down to every little facial and body type characteristic. It was great! They also have essays, adult/child photos (of some), and other goodies to learn about your donor. Our first IUI will be in a week or so, so then will be able to tell how "good" the donor really is! he he :-)

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#15 of 31 Old 02-01-2009, 06:32 PM
 
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We originally used California Cryobank for our sperm donor. They seemed very professional, lots of testing, way more options for getting info on the donor (pics, etc.) but chose to use NW Cryobank for this last order of sperm.

I don't want to say too much other than if you use NW Cryobank make sure do to ICSI as there was an issue with the sperm we ordered. Had it not been for the ICSI (we were contemplating NOT doing) we wouldn't be pregnant now.

We ended up getting refunded and are pregnant but just wanted to put that out there.

Our clinic will not use them anymore.

Sometimes you pay for what you get..... I guess in this aspect even.

Randi
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#16 of 31 Old 02-01-2009, 06:51 PM
 
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We used California Cryobank and Fairfax Cryobank. Both are reputable and were recommended to us by our physician.

I think with just about any bank you'll find that people have mixed views and experiences. I found that the vials we used from CC had lower counts than Fairfax. Not quite low enough for them to consider a refund, and good enough to still use, but not "great" as per my doctor.

Wherever you go I'd make sure you look over what they test for. I think sometimes people assume all banks do the same testing on the donor and sperm, but that isn't the case.
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#17 of 31 Old 06-20-2009, 05:14 PM
 
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NW Cryobank was a great bank for us. Registration took little time, and the process of ordering sperm was easy. We also were able to have it shipped to our home, which made for much more intimate inseminations. We didn't have a problem with sperm count or quality--we got pregnant on our second attempt with one donor, and we only used one vial. In fact, I know of a number of women who have had great success using them. On top of all of this, they are relatively inexpensive compared to the bigger banks.

The major downfall is a lack of much diversity in their donors. There isn't a huge selection, but a the same time, we were able to find several who were appealing to us.

Hope this helps!

T (38) and wife J (41), moms to son C (9/2009 - 2/2013), whom we lost to leukemia.

 Our next little one is due at the end of October.

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#18 of 31 Old 06-21-2009, 06:11 AM
 
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We used Fairfax Cryobank because of the extensive testing they do for Cystic Fibrosis. When our daughter was conceived, we didn't know if I was a carrier or not (my first cousin died from CF). Knowing that our donor was negative for all mutations was a huge relief. Fairfax is a bit expensive but worked well for us.
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#19 of 31 Old 07-29-2009, 07:38 PM
 
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my sister is a SMBC. she actually guided my decision to use fairfax cryo. i found their website to be very user friendly plus they offer various photo packages if you are into seeing a pict of your donor.

good luck!
-j

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#20 of 31 Old 03-25-2010, 01:55 PM
 
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The Donor Sibling Registry has a great compilation of info on many, many, MANY sperm banks. They list all comments that have been made by members of the DSR. I haven't fully looked at it, b/c we chose our bank (OHSU out of POrtland, OR) a couple years ago before I realized such a list existed. You don't have to be a dues paying member of the DSR to access the list. If you're concerned about using a future known-identity donor, be very careful about the bank you choose. My impression is that many are not ethical in this regard. I've heard great things about TSBC with future known donors. Link to the DSR Resources page: http://www.donorsiblingregistry.com/LinksPage.php
Good luck!
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#21 of 31 Old 04-20-2010, 02:18 AM
 
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we are using the European Sperm Bank in Seattle, WA. They are a known donor bank (VERY important to DP) and by far the most choiced bank we could find! they are very friendly but not so quick to always answer the phone (from what I've gathered).

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#22 of 31 Old 02-27-2011, 08:29 AM
 
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I'm trying to find a bank that lets you search for donor based on picture and education level. Does anyone know if anything like that is possible? I dont care if he remain anonymous or not, I just dont want to keep on buying picture after picture for potential donors just to see that he is definitely not what i'm looking for. Or is this how everyone does it? Should I just set aside a budjet for purchasing whole bunch of photographs?                                                                                                                                                                                                      Also, has anyone tried any less traditional ways, like actual european banks based in europe?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#23 of 31 Old 02-28-2011, 06:37 PM
 
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Dp and I have been using OHSU's bank in Portland, OR (we're about to embark on attempt #3). We're super-duper happy with them.

 

Pros:

  • Middle of the road pricing ($480 per iui vial)
  • No extra fees for additional services. Everything they have is on the internet and available to you. The downside is that they don't have lots of extra services. I put this in the pro list because I really don't like the "$20 for this and $35 for that" dynamic with other banks. It makes me feel like it's all about the money for the bank. 
  • Even though they don't have a lot of extras, their staff (Brian!) are more than willing to have conversations (no charge) about their impressions of various donors.  I don't know if this would include describing what they look like, but it wouldn't surprise me at all.  
  • They changed their policy in the last couple of years. All donors are now required to be willing-to-be-known donors.  I was able to ask the staff about their impressions for how enthusiastic each of our possible donors are about being known in the future.  It was great to feel like I had a trusted representative to help me make a good choice for us.

Cons

  • Website out-of-date.  Apparently, they have not been able to update it in a long while.  So you have to call to get the most up to date profiles.
  • Small database.  Other banks have many, many more donors.  This wasn't such a big deal to us as we were more concerned about having a good relationship with the bank staff and were able to find a donor we like.  We are using OHSU for the inseminations as well. 

Me (39), DP (45).  Together since 04, married in June 07.
TTC 10/10 to spring 2012.  Fall 2012--moving on to foster-adopt.

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#24 of 31 Old 03-01-2011, 09:59 AM
 
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I looked at OSHU. They have very few donors, but a lot of info for each


they still dont have pictures though. it seems to me that picture is the most important part

 

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#25 of 31 Old 03-01-2011, 11:23 AM
 
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Some people really want a photo.  I get that.  But we don't really care about that.  Health history and feeling like we might like the person felt way more important to us.   I think I've always been concerned that if I focused too much on looks that I'd transfer that focus to parenting and I definitely don't want to give my kids the impression that my love depends on what they look like.  Not that those who want photos are doing that.  Again, I get why some would feel it's important.  It's just not for us.


Me (39), DP (45).  Together since 04, married in June 07.
TTC 10/10 to spring 2012.  Fall 2012--moving on to foster-adopt.

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#26 of 31 Old 03-01-2011, 06:01 PM
 
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I'm not sure which bank to go with right now. I'm considering Cryogenic Lab and Xytex. 

 

Xytex seems to claims their samples have 25 million motile sperm which is more than the average found in fresh sperm. Does anyone know what the average would be for Cryogenics because Xytex seems kinda pricey. Or for that matter, has anyone here used both these banks? Seem most people have sperm bank loyalty. lol

 

Another question, has anyone had any experience with having a friend donate and then freezing their sperm? I have a friend who is a possible donor, but he lives in another state and visits rarely, so he can't be on call every time my partner is going to ovulate :P I was wondering if financially it would be cheaper to go that route. There are of course other advantages like the fact I know him and he would be like an uncle to the child which is something I really would like since I have such a small family.

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#27 of 31 Old 03-01-2011, 06:23 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by happycalm View Post

Dp and I have been using OHSU's bank in Portland, OR (we're about to embark on attempt #3). We're super-duper happy with them.

 

 

We're using OHSU, too. And I know some others who are as well. It kind of makes me wonder about biological half-siblings all over Portland, since the donor list is relatively small. I know after a certain number of pregnancies, the donors are geographically restricted, but still.

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#28 of 31 Old 03-01-2011, 09:19 PM
 
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Quote:
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Another question, has anyone had any experience with having a friend donate and then freezing their sperm? I have a friend who is a possible donor, but he lives in another state and visits rarely, so he can't be on call every time my partner is going to ovulate :P I was wondering if financially it would be cheaper to go that route. There are of course other advantages like the fact I know him and he would be like an uncle to the child which is something I really would like since I have such a small family.


I'm pretty familiar with this process as our first donor was a friend.  There is a LOT to say about the things one needs to cover in terms of exploring boundaries and legal issues and all that and if you want info on that, I'm happy to share.  But since your question is about finances and the process, that's what I'll cover.

 

Basically, banks or fertility clinics refer to this as using a Directed Donor.   They generally follow FDA guidelines and those include:

  • the Directed Donor getting a physical (maybe covered by directed donor's medical insurance and you could cover the copay or deductible, if any).  
  • Directed Donor and recipient or recipient and partner getting counseling from clinic social worker/counselor to make sure they've covered all their basis in terms of expectations/roles/etc. and explored what bumps could come up. This is a guideline for anyone using donated gametes from a known or directed donor.  This generally includes making sure legal advice has also been sought.  We paid maybe $150 per session, one session for me and my partner, one for the donor by himself and another with all of us together.  
  • Directed Donor getting infectious disease testing. This includes but is not limited to STD testing.  Other things they look for: cytomeglovirus (or CMV), TB (I think) and other things that are not STDs.  This testing MUST be done before but not more than 7 days prior to a directed donor making "deposits".  The idea being that the results of the testing can be considered accurate for 7 days and after that time, the donor's infectious disease status could change.  In effect, this means that you can get maybe 3 deposits from your donor each time this testing is done as depositing every day can affect sperm count.  This testing is not cheap.  Some of it might be covered by a donor's insurance but they probably will only cover it every so often.  Multiple deposit windows might result in you paying out of pocket for some of the testing.  If I remember correctly, the testing costs hundreds of dollars and maybe even over $1000.  But some of it might be just a one time thing.  Some things like CMV are not an issue once you have antibodies.  If you test once and have the antibodies, you don't need to test again.  But sometimes you do have to test for the difference between a current infection and evidence of an old infection.  
  • Another issue with the infectious disease testing is timing/location of testing.  We had all of the infectious disease testing done at the clinic/bank rather than the donor's doctor because if you only have a 7 day window, making multiple appts. and making sure the tests get reported to the right place can prove problematic. This could impact insurance coverage of the testing.

Other notes about infectious disease testing.  

  • Most but not all banks/clinics require a 6 month quarantine on the deposits and a redo on the infectious disease testing at the end of the 6 months to make sure there was no illness or disease that was developing but not yet able to be picked up by the first round of tests.  This requirement is apparently not required by the FDA but most clinics do it to cover their butts legally.
  • The quarantine and maybe some/all of the infectious disease testing is done based on the assumption that the recipient of the directed donation has not been exposed to the body fluids of the donor.  What this means is that sexual partners (married or not) do not have the same hoops to jump through.  Now, I am NOT recommending that you be less than truthful to your healthcare providers.  But, if we had known this from the beginning, we would have identified me as a sexual partner of our directed donor.  Can't imagine they would have believed me but I think they would have taken us at face value.  We would have done this because a) we totally trusted our donor and his practice of safe sex b) we would have gotten the same infectious disease testing done  whether they required it or not but on our own timetable without the 7 day window restriction and c) the quarantine sucks and d) some of this would have resulted in cost and hassle savings.  Again, I am not recommending anyone do this themselves.  I have no interest in being on the hook for someone else's risky behaviors.  I just want to share what I know.

Other costs:

  • Sperm Analysis which counts how many and looks at the morphology (shape) and motility of the donor's deposit.  You'll want to know he's got good quality stuff before moving forward.  We included this in his first deposit but that meant some of his deposit was lost to this testing and not included in what was available to us for use. Not sure how much this costs but many banks have their pricing online or could send it to you.
  • Sperm Freezing test.  Can't remember the right name.  This is the test in which they thaw a sample to see how many survive the thawing.  Some guys have great counts but they are not hardy enough to withstand freezing and thawing.  Not sure about cost.
  • Sperm storage. (about $250 per year up to a certain amount)
  • Sperm processing per deposit.  This price is partly about gathering the donation and may have separate fees for ici or iui processing/freezing. Again, not sure about price but you can look it up.  OHSU has their pricing online if you want to use it as a guide.  I'm guessing it's $150-300 per deposit?
  • Shipping fees.  These include a possible deposit on the rental of a container for shipping the deposits.  The bank where he makes the deposits will probably also charge a small fee for processing the shipment ($50-100).  And then the shipping charges for FedEx.
  • Legal fees for reviewing a known donor contract and then for severing parental rights and responsibilities of directed donor and/or second parent adoption processing ($1500-3000 depending on what level of legal support you get/need).  Lots of people skip this step but wow is that a bad idea, IMHO.  A second parent adoption by a partner automatically severs parental rights and responsibilities of directed donor.  I live in OR where my partner can be on the birth certificate from day 1.  This does not preclude the need for such paperwork!  For one, this legal precedent has not been sufficiently tested in court and if we plan to travel outside of OR, my partner's relationship to my biological child may not be recognized.  Partners need a second parent adoption.  When you use an anonymous donor from a sperm bank, you don't need to sever the donors rights/responsibilities but you would still need a second parent adoption for a partner if you have one.

 

The up-shot of all of this is that it's not cheap to do directed donation.  In fact, for us it was cost-prohibitive because our friend has a lower than ideal count in the first place and you lose a lot of material in the freezing and processing for iui.  Banks save money because they use their own facilities and staff to do the testing so it doesn't cost as much and they only use donors who have very high counts.  This means each deposit could result in multiple vials.  Also, they can have a longer than 7 day window for deposits as long as they are also doing more frequent testing.

 

Wow. That was long.  Hope it makes sense.  

 

I've followed a lot of people on another forum who use or plan to use known donors (mostly live not through a bank).  It always surprises me how little preparation they put into exploring the risks and boundaries and expectations of such an arrangement.  Even with the 3 close friends we discussed this with, each relationship resulted in different conversations and took differing amounts of time to work things out.  It scares me when I hear about friends chatting over dinner one night and deciding sperm donation is a good idea and start working on it the next time the intended recipient ovulates.  There is way too much at stake for that, IMHO.

 

Anyway, let me know if I can help in any other way.  Oh, and my cost estimates are somewhat guesses or recalls of info that might not be fully correct.


Me (39), DP (45).  Together since 04, married in June 07.
TTC 10/10 to spring 2012.  Fall 2012--moving on to foster-adopt.

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#29 of 31 Old 03-01-2011, 11:09 PM
 
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One more thing about directed donors and getting around the quarantine (and maybe some of the testing timing requirements but I'm not sure):  one of the nurses at one of the clinics we have worked with said that she thought this clinic waived the quarantine for a donor/couple who had done fresh inseminations themselves with a donor prior to the deposits.  This is because the recipient would have been exposed to the donor's body fluids as a result of the fresh inseminations and thus could be considered to be similar to a sexual partner (and thus the concerns about exposing the recipient to the fluids for the first time would not be an issue).  However, my guess is that this was done for a patient with whom the clinic had an established relationship.  I'm assuming that if a random person called this or another clinic and asked for such an exception or waiver, such a request would not be granted.  


Me (39), DP (45).  Together since 04, married in June 07.
TTC 10/10 to spring 2012.  Fall 2012--moving on to foster-adopt.

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#30 of 31 Old 03-02-2011, 06:14 PM
 
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Wow, thanks for all the information. I think in that case we might just go with "fresh sperm" if he's in town and just get frozen directly from a bank when he's not. I guess it's going to be a matter of timing. Regardless of which sperm ends up working out he was always going to be the family friend that's always around. 

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