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Sperm Donations From Dead Men Are Apparently the Future

Illustration for article titled Sperm Donations From Dead Men Are Apparently the Future
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According to a new study published in the Journal of Medical Ethics as reported by BBC, sperm deposits from dead men may become a “morally permissible” avenue to solving the U.K.’s donation shortage. Apparently sperm can be extracted from the prostate up to 48 hours after death through surgery or electrical stimulation. Then, like any other donation, it is frozen.

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The U.K. has struggled with a lack of sperm donors in the past. In 2015, a year after launching a new, national sperm bank, only nine guys made deposits. Literally, just nine. It closed a year later.

University of Leicester’s Dr. Nathan Hodson and Manchester’s Wythenshawe Hospital’s Dr. Joshua Parker likened the dead-man donation process to organ donation in the report (via BBC):

“If it is morally acceptable that individuals can donate their tissues to relieve the suffering of others in ‘life-enhancing transplants’ for diseases, we see no reason this cannot be extended to other forms of suffering like infertility.”

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That sounds fair. Plummeting sperm counts have been the focus of scientific study for years, coinciding with the global rise of cis male infertility. In general, men are producing half of the semen, sperm, and testosterone that they produced in not-so-distant past. Acquiring a deposit from a healthy, past benefactor seems like a viable way of approaching fertility in the future—as long as there is clear consent from him prior to death, just as there is in traditional organ donation—but with additional care. According to The Atlantic, in 2005, the U.K. passed a law allowing all donor-conceived individuals had the right to contact the donor once they turn 18. Should donors from dead men become a viable option, it will be interesting to see how that law, if at all, changes to fit the needs of future children born from their donations and their families.

Senior Writer, Jezebel. My debut book, LARGER THAN LIFE: A History of Boy Bands, is out now.

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DISCUSSION

In 2015, a year after launching a new, national sperm bank, only nine guys made deposits. Literally, just nine. It closed a year later.

Not exactly surprising, and they were warned as such when they passed the 2005 law that lets donor children get the full name and address of the donor with an appeal. If you want people to donate sperm anonymously, then they need to have a right to anonymity.

I suppose using deceased donors avoids that issue, although I wonder when you tell the children.