May 29, 2012

Blog written by Fairfax Cryobank Laboratory Director Michelle Ottey, PhD

There is a lot of misinformation out there about Sperm Banks and Sperm Donors. I want to set the record straight for our Cryobank. I recognize the importance of what we do and the broad effects that it has on many people’s lives. We take this very seriously and are committed to the work we do to help build families.

As the field of donor sperm has evolved, the sperm bank has evolved. Decades ago, when the field was forming and beginning to grow anonymity was the accepted way of doing things. Over time, as the use of donor sperm grew and the recipients began asking for sperm donors who would be willing to be contacted, the sperm banks responded by developing ID donor programs. There is a significant population of recipients who continue to value the anonymous donor program, and so we continue to provide that option. Our goal is to build a donor pool that meets the needs of our diverse recipient base.

As with many other things in life, we have to focus on now and do the very best job that we can so that the donors, the recipients, and the offspring are all considered in our decisions. I joined the Cryobank in 2006. The amount of positive change, growth of programs, and implementation of positive policies that has happened in the past six years indicates to me that we are making good decisions and doing the right thing.

In 2008 we revised our distribution policy to limit the distribution of a donor to 25 family units in the US and 15 additional family units internationally. I am a part of the review process of our donor distribution. These numbers are reviewed in detail each month.

In 2010 we implemented a secure online update system that is used by our retired donors. This system allows our donors to log in and update their personal and medical histories, their family medical history, and comment on any questions or concerns they have. We send an annual invitation via email to the retired donors, and do several follow up steps. We have been working for 2 years on reaching back to older retired donors for whom we do not have an active email address or even recent contact information. As you can imagine this is a challenge, but our staff dedicates countless hours to this important follow up. All of the updated information is posted online on the free donor summary profile.

We have improved our website to include easier ways to allow our recipients to report their pregnancies. We have improved our notification system for donor restrictions. We work with the many regulatory bodies that govern our procedures: FDA, AATB, ASRM, NY, MD, and CA State, BBB, as well as our rigorous internal policies. We have consistently passed each external and internal audit, with our most recent FDA audit this spring occurring with no findings and some very positive feedback from our auditor. We have an active Medical Director who is involved in the approval of each of our new donors. We have significantly increased the pool of ID Option donors, and are constantly working to increase our overall pool and to produce the highest quality, best tested donor sperm.

I am proud of the dedication and commitment to excellence that exists within the Cryobank. I am proud of the staff; everyone from our friendly and knowledgeable CSRs, to our well trained lab techs, to the Managers and Directors who keep things running smoothly. It takes quite a few people to get that little vial of sperm to you the recipient, and I assure you, each of us is dedicated to providing you with the very best vial possible.

I appreciate feedback, open communication, and rational discussion. If you would like to comment or ask a question, please do not hesitate to email us as info@fairfaxcryobank.com Attn: Blog response.

Wishing you the best,

Michelle Ottey, PhD, HCLD

Lab Director

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