A ‘Baby Bjorn’ Sperm Crisis

Janon Fisher, New York Post, September 16, 2007

New Yorkers looking for a bouncy, blond, blue-eyed baby are in a panic as the city’s largest sperm bank—and the only one with imported goods—is running dry.

Cryos International, based in the Financial District, has gone to seed because the Food and Drug Administration banned sperm samples from 30 countries to prevent the spread of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare, fatal disorder caused by eating beef contaminated with mad-cow disease.

Two years after the measure, Cryos has run out of offerings from such prized blond Norsemen as “Oluf,” “Dagh,” “Finn,” “Ingi,” “Jorn” and “Ante.”

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One Upper West Side couple, who has a daughter by the Danish donor “Dane” and is looking to have another, was shocked by the ban.

The parents, both 41, purchased Dane’s donation before it ran out. They have enough left to try another artificial insemination, but if that doesn’t work they won’t be able to give their 8-month-old daughter a full sibling. “It’s really stunning because I did want the same father for my daughter,” said the mother, whose husband was left sterile by a childhood disease.

The couple chose Cryos because they wanted a child who resembled them.

“Dare we hope that here is some sort of magical Scandinavian sperm bank? We looked on the Internet and found out about this clinic,” she said.

Sperm-bank manager Claus Rodgaard said most of the Northern European donor supplies will be gone by next year. “We have a waiting list of 15 to 20 couples,” he said.

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Couples looking for a donor further narrow the pool of donors with their own preferences. “Guys with red hair don’t sell well in Denmark,” he said. “I’m sure if we have a donor that is 8 feet tall, that might not be that popular.”

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Couples seeking imported sperm should be educated rather than being left childless because “of what is clearly a negligible risk of contracting” Creutzfeldt-Jakob, Dr. David Mortimer writes in an article in the October 2006 issue of Reproductive BioMedicine.

The FDA did not comment on the study, but cited the conclusions of a 2001 committee finding that mad cow could be passed through sperm.

“I’d rather take the chance and end up with another perfect child,” the Manhattan mother said.

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