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Sperm Bank Opens Cambridge Branch

By Matt Mucklo
Staff Reporter

Help wanted: Male, age 19 to 34.

Wage: $35 per visit.

Cryobank, Inc. opened its newest branch laboratory in Cambridge earlier this semester.

However, this is no ordinary employer. Cryobank is "the largest sperm bank in the United States," according to its advertisement in The Tech and other local newspapers. Its goal is to "provide high quality sperm for artificial insemination," the advertisement continued.

Qualified persons must commit to two or three 20-minute sessions per week for a period of nine months to a year, according to an employee at Cryobank. At $35 per visit, a person could conceivably earn up to $105 each week.

The actual selection process and subsequent insemination are carried out through the company's Los Angeles headquarters, the employee said. The branch laboratories only collect the sperm samples.

Cryobank has another branch laboratory in Palo Alto, Calif., near Stanford University. One might wonder whether it is coincidental that the new sperm bank is located between MIT and Harvard University.

In order to become a donor, males must meet certain age and height requirements, the employee said. They are also asked whether they or their parents were adopted, and if there is a family history of diabetes. However, donors remain anonymous to the eventual recipients, the employee added.

In addition, potential donors must go through a qualification process where samples are taken in order to determine whether or not the sperm count is adequate. The method of extraction is through masturbation, not by needle, the employee said.

Christopher Nutter G saw Cryobank's advertisement and is now a donor. "I've always had time for work before, and now I don't. It's a way of making money without really doing anything," he said.

Nutter added that the long-term commitment is not really a problem. "For incoming students, you're going to be around here anyway," he said.

In addition, donors must return six months after the initial nine-month or year-long contract for a blood test, Nutter said. This is to check for diseases, including AIDS.

Some students considered the ethical implications of donating sperm.

Kenneth S. Song '96 acknowledged both the benefits and problems of sperm banks. They can help couples who otherwise cannot have children, but may also encourage people to try to shop for a child with a perfect genetic make-up, he said. "You shouldn't try to mold the child before he or she is born."

"The money is an incentive, but morally, I don't know," said David F. Ackerman '96.

On the other hand, "It sounds like a great way to make some extra cash," said Brian D. Robertson '95. "It pays more than some UROPs!"

Donating sperm "seems like it would be another way to pay for MIT," said John M. Feland III '94. "But, like many ways of paying for MIT, [it is] not necessarily too pleasant."