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[whitespace] Gift Of Life

By Traci Hukill

Sharing your reproductive capacity is not always easy, and it may not be a suitable subject for casual conversation, but among the valley's babyless boomers, it is needed. At California Cryobank in Palo Alto (650.324.1900), brave and tireless semen producers show up two or three times a week to deposit sperm so that others might enjoy the gift of life. At up to $50 per visit, that can add up to $600 of income per month.

Predictably, some restrictions apply. In fact, a Cryobank spokeswoman notes that a mere 3 percent to 5 percent of all applicants ever make it to donorhood. Donors must be between 19 and 39, college-educated (or enrolled in school) and free of infectious diseases. They must provide their family's medical history and have fast-swimming, strong and multitudinous sperm. The swimmers of donor hopefuls applying to the Berkeley-based Sperm Bank of California (510.841.1858) have to endure an even tougher test: surviving the freeze and thaw of the quarantine period. And the donor himself must make a one-year commitment. (What better proof that commitment-phobes weren't meant to reproduce?)

Once accepted, donors complete a profile for the donor catalog. A recent visit to California Cryobank's website listed donor information like hair color, race and religious background, mathematical, athletic and musical skills, and hobbies ("I like working with my hands," wrote one earnest applicant). Anonymity is guaranteed to men who request it.

Egg donation is a whole different game. Most clinics want women between the ages of 21 and 32, and unlike the desperate couple who offered to pay $100,000 for the eggs of a brainy and athletic university student, most clinics pay between $2,500 and $3,500 for "ovum harvest." The process involves two to three weeks of hormone injections (to boost the number of eggs the ovaries produce) and frequent blood tests. The actual egg removal is done under anesthesia by syringe and lasts about five to 10 minutes. Like sperm donors, egg donors have to fill out an extensive family history and be healthy themselves. They need to be able to prove that they have conceived in the past (some agencies ask for a picture of the donor with her children), and they need to be able to sign a lot of legal documents.

For a list of Bay Area egg-donation clinics, see www.ihr.com/infertility/provider/donoregg.html.


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From the March 16-22, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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