Sale Alert! Holiday Savings on Sperm

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While it’s far from a traditional gift, vials of sperm may be at the top of the list for couples and single women facing infertility. A sale on sperm from two branches of the world’s largest group of sperm banks could at least help reduce one of the costs involved in creating a family.

Fairfax Cryobank and Cryogenic Laboratories Inc. (CLI) — both divisions of the Genetics and IVF Institute, based in Fairfax, Va. — are having one-day sales this week, offering 50% off your second vial of sperm with the full-price purchase of one. (More on The Mouse That Had Two Dads)

Fairfax’s sale will run through Dec. 14, while CLI will be offering the same discount on Dec. 16. Per vial, prices vary from about $300 to $660, depending on its preparation (that is, what type of fertility treatment the sperm is intended to be used for) and the educational background of the donor.

It’s not the first time sperm has been put in the clearance bin. Last year, another major sperm bank, Xytex, offered customers up to $200 off vials of sperm from its “select” donors to clear out an oversupply. But the current sale is the first to be offered by the world’s largest group of banks.

“I’ve seen friends go through [infertility],” says Michelle Ottey, a geneticist and director of operations for Fairfax and CLI. “Yes, it’s a business but when it comes down to it, we’re allowing people the freedom to build their families. If we can do that with a sale or a special, we’re glad to help.” (More on Using Sperm-Producing Cells to Treat Type 1 Diabetes)

What can you expect to get in the sale? Together, the two sperm banks have samples from approximately 300 donors — accounting for fewer than 1% of all the men who applied to donate. Screening includes testing for genetic disorders and other illnesses, as well as for family history of potentially heritable disorders.

The donors are paid between $150 and $200 per sample, and are asked to make a commitment to give one sample per week for six months. The samples are limited to 25 to 30 “family units” — meaning that only 25 to 30 families are allowed to use samples from any single donor. There is no cap on how many children a family may conceive using a single donor’s sperm.

If you’re after sperm from Jewish doctors or biracial men of African American and Caucasian descent, act fast — these samples sell the quickest.

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