Sperm donor’s nightmare: ‘Have I fathered 500 children already?’
OBI, 21-year-old University of Lagos (UNILAG) undergraduate, has been a regular sperm donor for the past one year. “I found out about this business through an advert poster at my school. I was in desperate need of cash then, so I did not waste time before rushing to the IVF (in vitro fertilisation) clinic,” he chattered away, while mistaking the reporter for a potential donor.
“You can try it. There is really no big deal to sperm or egg donation,” he continued. “In a month, I make as much as N200, 000 to N250, 000. Once my sperm was screened and certified okay, that was it, men! I became a regular visitor to the clinic.“I normally go once or twice a week. I was told to abstain from sex three days before a donation, because if my sperm count is down, they will not pay me,” he explained further.
Later on, Obi began to wonder how many children he may have fathered. “When I read the story of a British man, Simon Watson, 41 years old, that fathered 800 children through sperm donation, I got very afraid. “What if I have fathered up to 500 children already? What if one marries another accidentally or what if I end up sleeping with one of my daughters?” he exclaimed in fear.
But Obi has no way of knowing the answers, because unlike the western world where donors have access to such private details, as there is no regulatory body where such information are retrievable in Nigeria.
This might not be of serious concern to many jobless young men like Obi, who need the money from sperm donation to survive. With the recession, many donors have now come out of hiding, openly advertising themselves in an online sperm donation website, www.surrogatefinder.com.
Nigerian IVF Clinics Reveal How Sperm Donation Works.A VISIT to three top IVF clinics in Lagos- the Medical Assisted Reproduction Technology (MART) Clinic, Bridge Clinic and Hope Valley Clinic threw more light on the procedure.Explaining the procedure during a visit to MART Clinic, its Medical Director, Prof Oladapo Ashiru, said young men were recruited to donate sperms used for IVF procedures in his clinic.
He disclosed that the donor is expected to fill up to 13 or more vials with his sperm, which takes over a month’s visit. “These sperms are stored in fridges, known as sperm banks, for years without spoiling.
“For each visit, the young man will be paid N10, 000 to N25, 000, depending on their personality and academic qualification. You cannot expect someone that went to Harvard and is 6 ft. tall to be paid the same amount as the person that is 5 ft., attended a Nigerian university or even an undergraduate,” he said.
An embryologist from Bridge Clinic, who preferred anonymity, gave detail about sperm donation procedure in there. “Before, we used to go to universities and talk to young men about donating, but now, we recruit donors through people that have donated before.
“Usually, those ones talk to their friends and they also come to donate,” the source said.Regarding criteria for a would-be donor, she explained: “We have to do a viral screening, we like to recruit people between the age of 16 and 45 and it is an anonymous process, very anonymous.
“We like to have an interview with the person, know why he wants to donate, know his genotype and medical history.“After screening and collecting their sperm, we do not use it immediately until after six months and the guy has to come back for a re-test to be sure that he is completely free from infection that might have incubated.
If he is ok, he can now become a donor.” According to the staff: “Each time they come and give us sample, we give them a minimum of N10, 000,
as an inconvenience allowance, since you cannot really pay for someone’s sperm.”
The staff continued: “We work alongside doctors in finding solutions and specific treatment options regarding infertility. “For embryological procedures, my job entails getting the eggs and sperm, culturing them and transferring them back into the womb.”
According to the embryologist, sperm donation comes in handy for the man who cannot produce his own sperm for sundry reasons. “Here, we have a sperm bank, which is a place where sperms donated by people are kept.
“The sperms are used for couples where the man does not have any sperm after ejaculation or for women that wants to be single mothers. “If after ejaculation, we find out that the man does not have any viable sperm, we still go ahead and carry out a surgical sperm collection and if we find out there is still no sperm, then we advise the couple to go for donated sperm.”
Consequence Of Unregulated Sperm Banking In Nigeria
FINDINGS have revealed that multiple children could be fathered from same donor’s sperm if used to achieve many pregnancies.
Experts warned that this could lead to increased odds of accidental incest between half-sisters and half-brothers. A gynaecologist at Randle General Hospital in Onikan Lagos, Dr. Adeleke Kaka, stressed the need to regulate the number of offspring conceived with same donor’s sperm.
“Aside the risk of accidental incest, there is also the risk of increased spread of rare genetic diseases and disorders. “If the donor has a history of some illness in the family, such as schizophrenia, Huntington’s chorea disease, Type-1 diabetes, leukemia, autism or congenital heart disease, he can pass this to his many offspring, thereby increasing the spread,” he said.
He noted that such things could be prevented if there was a law regulating the use of donated sperms. “This should address issues, such as amount to pay donors, undisclosed and disclosed paternity terms, how many children the sperm should father and others,” he added.
According to a Medical Laboratory Scientist and Chairman of West African Postgraduate College of Medical Laboratory Science (WAPCMLS), Dr. Godswill Okara, sperm donation should fall under organ donation, which is part of the things the National Health Act that is yet to be implemented seeks to address.
“If implemented, I believe it will detail the process of procuring sperm, egg and even blood,” he stressed.Although some IVF practitioners insist that they follow international standards and regulation on sperm donation and banking, but there is still need for an external and independent regulatory body to monitor their activity, Okara explained.
Even fertility experts seem to agree on this and stressed the need for urgent regulation and national guideline for IVF practice in Nigeria. Speaking on behalf of practitioners, under the aegis of Association for Fertility and Reproductive Health (AFRH), its President, Dr. Osato Giwa-Osagie, harped on the need to have such regulation in place.
Another fertility expert with Bridge Clinic, Dr. Ekundayo Omogbehin, explained in his article, ‘The need for effective regulation of IVF clinic in Nigeria,’ that an industry regulator is needed to moderate and audit the claims of fertility clinics, so as to ensure they do not fly wild cards and deceive unsuspecting clients.
He wrote: “In the UK (United Kingdom), the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is the specialist regulator for fertility practice. “In Nigeria, however, the best we see are a few clinics that have gone ahead to adopt particular protocols from foreign countries of their choice and regulate themselves using those standards.
“This is a good start, but we need an external regulator to ensure independent and uniform standard for the whole country.”For now, it appears a free way for donors and practitioners, with rising fear of incidences of incest and spread of inherent/hereditary diseases, if not diagnosed and treated at the point of sperm donation.
But perhaps the most worrisome is lack of adequate information and reliable data on the merging trend in Nigeria. Explaining the moral implication, Pastor Ajibade of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Southwest Zone, said; “I feel that donating your sperm to help an infertile couple is okay, but when money is involved, it becomes business, and this is wrong.
“It is the same as prostitution and this is unholy before God. Children are meant to be fruits born out of love between a man and a woman in holy matrimony, not out of a frozen sperm that anyone can just go and buy.”
Pastor Olalowo Olabanji of Masterpiece Assembly said collecting sperm in large quantity and using it for different couples is wrong. “It will definitely lead to incest and more lawlessness. It will only encourage more lesbianism.
“These days, people are deciding that marriage between a man and a woman is no longer necessary before anyone gets a child. “Lesbians and gays now feel they have nothing to lose by not getting married, since they can simply have children using sperm or egg donation.
“This is not the purpose of God. Don’t forget that there are curses that follow one from generation to generation, so if the sperm donor has a curse, it will be affecting his offspring.
“In the Bible, generational trees and linages are very important to God. It was important to God for Abraham and Sarah to have a child that came directly from their own body. “So, it is important for women to be mindful of the children they conceive using sperm from strangers,” he said.