Seattle sperm bank in desperate need of Black donors

Nov 1, 2022, 5:49 AM | Updated: 7:09 am

(Igordoon Primus/Unsplash)...

(Igordoon Primus/Unsplash)

(Igordoon Primus/Unsplash)

Only 2% of the country’s sperm donors are Black men, which is causing a lot of heartache for women specifically looking for a Black donor. The Washington Post reporter Amber Ferguson spent 11 months researching the story, focusing on the country’s four biggest sperm banks.

“Out of the four, there are over 700 donors, but there are only 12 Black donors,” said Ferguson. “The number fluctuates, really hour by hour, because that’s how quickly vials from Black sperm donors sell out. I have a heterosexual couple in my story where the man is Black, he is paralyzed, and they’ve been looking for a donor. [His wife] got an email alert that a new Black donor came up on the site and she called 20 minutes later and all the donor’s files had sold out five minutes prior. The Black donor sold out within 15 minutes.”

For a lot of families, having a child that looks like them is essential.

“Black women who are single or in same-sex relationships are really forced into a painful choice,” said Ferguson. “They’re really being forced to choose a donor of a different race, which means they are being forced to have a biracial kid when that wasn’t their initial desire. Or for those who really want a Black donor, they’re going to these unregulated online groups and Facebook groups and apps to find a Black donor and it’s dangerous. Some women are choosing not to have kids because they can’t find a donor. So they’re giving up motherhood.”

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Ferguson says this is not a new problem, but in the last couple of years, since the pandemic started, more Black women are seeking out donor sperm. And there are many reasons why men aren’t donating.

“The top reason, medical mistrust,” said Ferguson. “Black men, especially younger Black men, have a deep mistrust of the medical community that spans generations and generations. Another reason, when I spoke to Black men, they wanted to be involved fathers. The stereotype is that Black men are absentee fathers and they have a bunch of offspring that they have no connection to, and they see sperm donation as that. So cryobanks have done a pretty poor job of communicating that this is completely different than that.”

She says the sperm banks haven’t done a great job of recruiting donors and the Black men Ferguson interviewed weren’t aware that there was a shortage.

“The majority of the cryobanks I spoke to, the majority of the employees are white,” said Ferguson. “There is only one cryobank I spoke to that had a Black employee that was front facing. When you have people that look like you, it’s easier to trust. So if they had doctors, medical staff, employees that were Black, it might help.”

One of the big four banks is located here in Seattle, click here if you’re interested in learning more about donation.

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Seattle sperm bank in desperate need of Black donors