Redheads rejected as sperm bank bans deposits
Published: September 19, 2011 – 3:04PM
Redheads have long battled rumours they are a dying breed and Europeans are not helping, with the world’s largest sperm bank rejecting flame-haired donors due to lack of demand.
But IVF Australia medical director, Associate Professor Peter Illingworth, said the same would never happen here because the country does not have enough donors.
“The problem we have is a shortage of donors,” Associate Professor Illingworth said.
“We will happily take all the redheads we can get.”
London’s Daily Telegraph reported that Denmark’s Cryos sperm bank, which provides sperm to women in 65 countries, has started turning away red-haired donors because there is very little demand for their sperm.
A recent peak in donations meant the sperm bank could be selective about their donors, Cryos’s director Ole Schou said.
“There are too many redheads in relation to demand,” he told told Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet.
“I do not think you choose a redhead, unless the partner – for example, the sterile male – has red hair, or because the lone woman has a preference for redheads. And that’s perhaps not so many, especially in the latter case.”
Mr Schou said the sperm of redheads “sold like hot cakes” only in Ireland, while Cryos’s clients mostly demanded donors with dark eyes and hair.
Associate Professor Illingworth said there was no real bias against red-haired donors in Australia.
“I think it depends on the context,” he said.
“Where couples are using donor sperm because the male partner has a sperm problem, then clearly they want the donor to look as close to the male partner as possible.
“And clearly red hair is not the most common hair colour in Australia.
“But increasingly, we provide access to donor sperm to single women and same-sex couples and that’s not such an issue in that situation.”
Associate Professor Illingworth said donors would never be turned away in Australia for a “trivial issue” such as hair colour, as it was difficult to attract any men to give their sperm.
Men can only donate their sperm after a rigorous process of counselling and health checks, including screening for mental health and genetic issues.
“The ethical background under which donor sperm is used in Australia is quite different … nowadays in Australia we only use sperm donors in Australia who are willing to have their identity passed on to the offspring.
“We also have strict limits on the number of families you can create from any one donor.
“Neither of these apply in other parts of the world; therefore in other parts of the world it is much easier to recruit a sperm donor and you can use a sperm donor to create many more families.
“But very properly and quite correctly in Australia we don’t do things that way.”