Sperm bank de­nies lower re­quire­ments

Im­ple­men­ta­tion of uni­ver­sal two-child pol­icy has led to rise in de­mand for donors

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By WANG XIAODONG in Bei­jing and SHI BAOYIN in Zhengzhou

A sperm bank in He­nan prov­ince has de­nied that it has dropped its ed­u­ca­tion and height re­quire­ments for po­ten­tial donors, de­spite a chronic short­age of sup­ply.

“The stan­dards re­quired for donors re­main the same,” said Hu Yao­long, a chief tester at He­nan Sperm Bank in Zhengzhou. “In ad­di­tion to health re­quire­ments, donors must have at least a ju­nior col­lege de­gree and be 1.65 me­ters tall.”

Some me­dia out­lets have re­ported that the num­ber of donors and the qual­ity of sperm do­nated in He­nan has fallen, low­er­ing re­serves and lead­ing the sperm bank to re­duce its stan­dards to bring more men through the door.

Hu said the adop­tion of the uni­ver­sal two-child pol­icy has left the bank fac­ing a wider gap be­tween sup­ply and de­mand, but added that stan­dards had not changed. How­ever, the bank de­vised new in­cen­tives, he said, such as in­creas­ing the amount it pays donors to about 5,000 yuan ($727).

“It may not be a big amount in cities like Bei­jing and Shang­hai, but it is a big amount in He­nan, and I think it will at­tract more donors,” Hu said.

“In ad­di­tion, donors can have their sperm pre­served for 30 years, free of charge, so in the fu­ture they could use it for in vitro fer­til­iza­tion, if nec­es­sary.”

Re­quire­ments for donors in He­nan, one of the most pop­u­lous prov­inces in China, are strict in order to at­tract qual­i­fied peo­ple, like col­lege stu­dents, Hu said.

“Col­lege stu­dents are sta­ble and can stay in the same place for years,” he said. “This meets our re­quire­ment for do­na­tion, be­cause a donor usu­ally needs to make 10 dona­tions to com­plete the whole process, and this could take up to half a year .”

Donors must meet other re­quire­ments, too, in­clud­ing be­ing of Chi­nese na­tion­al­ity, hav­ing no in­fec­tious or hered­i­tary dis­eases, no bad habits such as smok­ing or drink­ing, and be aged be­tween 22 and 45.

“The sup­ply and de­mand for sperm has re­mained largely bal­anced in re­cent years,” Hu said. “But the short­age has been wors­en­ing since the uni­ver­sal two-child pol­icy, as more older cou­ples are seek­ing IVF to have a sec­ond child.”

More than 90 mil­lion cou­ples were made el­i­gi­ble to have a sec­ond child with the new fam­ily plan­ning pol­icy, which was adopted at the beginning of the year. More than half of the newly el­i­gi­ble wom­enare 40 years old or older, a de­mo­graphic that has higher preg­nancy risks, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion.

Many sperm banks are fac­ing a short­age of qual­i­fied donors. Pek­ing Univer­sity Third Hospi­tal, a top hospi­tal in as­sisted re­pro­duc­tive tech­nol­ogy, also of­fers 5,000 yuan to suit­able donors.

A de­crease in the qual­ity of sperm has caused many banks strug­gle to find suf­fi­cient sup­plies, ex­perts said.

The He­nan Sperm Bank had 2,028 donors be­tween Jan­uary and mid-Novem­ber, but only 20.8 per­cent passed the sperm qual­ity test.

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