Sperm donor New York

DELIVERY MANJessica Miglio / DreamWorks


Those of you busy buying tickets to Thor or The Hunger Games, may have missed a movie premiering this week about a man who fathers 533 children. Yes, you read that correctly. In Delivery Man, Vince Vaughn plays a guy who donates to a sperm bank in his 20s and discovers years later that due to a “mixup” at the clinic, he is progenitor of 533 offspring.

And that’s not the only sperm donation story pervading pop culture this week: a new docu-drama premiering on MTV Monday called Generation Cryo follows a teenage girl whose father was a sperm donor as she tries to track down her biological dad and half-siblings; next week, a book by the founder of the Donor Sibling Registry website — the site the teens use in the MTV show — called Finding Our Families: A First-of-Its-Kind Book for Donor Conceived People and Their Families hits shelves.

All this talk of sperm donations has left us with quite a few questions. So we asked experts what you were too embarrassed to ask yourself.

1. Okay, wait. Could someone really father more than 500 children via a sperm bank?

Grace Centula, Lab Director at Cryos International Sperm Bank in New York estimates that even men with a very high sperm count who donate every week for a year could accomplish maybe thirty pregnancies in that year. It would take decades to have 500 children.

So far, there haven’t been any reports of people fathering 500 children. But there have been reports of people fathering hundreds. In September 2011, the New York Times reported on a man who had fathered 150 children. According to Wendy Kramer, the head of the Donor Sibling Registry Website (which for 13 years has helped donor children and parents to locate and connect half-siblings and biological parents or children and currently has 40, 000 members), that group has grown. “That group is now hovering around 200, ” she says. “And they’re not the only group.”

2. Two hundred is still a lot of kids! Is that common?

The problem is that there isn’t a regulatory agency governing who is donating sperm, how often and how many pregnancies result from these donations.

“Because nobody is collecting data, we actually have no idea whether 75 or 150 births are an unusually large number or if that’s the norm, ” says Rene Almeling, associate professor at Yale and author of Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm. She says the last national survey on sperm donation was taken in 1988 by the now-defunct Federal Government Office of Technology Assessment.

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