Lack of Regulation in Sperm Banks, A Further Accusation
Facilities that manage the cryogenic storage of sperm cells offer an unprecedented amount of flexibility to people with the current inability or uncertainty regarding their future ability to have children. Such people may take solace in the possibilities these frozen reserves promise. Is this trust misplaced?
Though the Food and Drug administration mandates that sperm samples submitted for storage undergo testing for infectious diseases, and some centers are tested by health departments, the records and storage methods utilized by the facilities remain unregulated. This lack of customer protection is often overlooked, as sperm banks functioning as private businesses are sometimes perceived as well-regulated medical facilities. Illustrations of the need for further regulation often come via lawsuits against these businesses.
A recent case brought against Dr. Peyman Saadat and the Reproductive Fertility Center involves the loss of six vials of sperm owned by Sarah Robertson. This case is complicated by multiple unique factors. The missing samples are irreplaceable due to the death of the donor, Ms. Robertson’s husband, Aaron. The samples may have been distributed or used against the will of Ms. Robertson. If such is the case, each of the recipients of this sperm have a 50% chance of having a child who inherits Marfan Syndrome, and it is unlikely appropriate genetic counseling was delivered to these recipients. When examining cases brought against sperm banks, the emotional considerations made are often strong. Potential lives hang in the balance and the possibility of undue suffering is closely tied with the storage of and records on the samples entrusted to the banks.
This and other recent cases shine a light on the need for regulation that goes beyond ensuring hygienic environments in sperm banks. Legislation must also ensure the ethical behavior of those who operate the facilities. Regulations will have to recognize the business of cryogenic storage while simultaneously ensuring cases like Ms. Robertson’s become a rarity rather than a common occurrence.
Lewin, Tamar. "Sperm Banks Accused of Losing Samples and Lying About Donors." The New York Times. The New York Times, 22 July 2016. Web. 23 July 2016.