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Illegal sperm trade in Vietnam poses health risks

Wednesday, May 22, 2019, 14:59 GMT+7
Illegal sperm trade in Vietnam poses health risks
A photo illustration taken at Cryos, the biggest sperm bank worldwide, in Aarhus, Denmark on December 15, 2016. Photo: AFP

Some Vietnamese men are offering their sperms to multiple recipients – for free or a fee – despite regulations dictating that a sperm donor can only donate once in his lifetime to avoid risks of inbreeding.

On a Facebook page with more than 2,000 followers, sperm donation ads are posted regularly by both donors and seekers.

Under one of the posts, T.V.C., who claimed to be a 30-year-old male from the southern province of Binh Phuoc, left a comment saying he was willing to give his sperm up for free as an “act of kindness."

“Semen analysis has shown that my sperm is qualified for hospital donation, so if you’re serious about this feel free to contact me,” C. said.

The man added that he could only offer “direct donation," which means performing sexual intercourse with his recipient, as he has already donated sperm at a hospital once.

Vietnamese law bars sperm donors from making multiple donations to prevent inbreeding.

On this page, donors regularly advertise themselves as well-educated men working white-collar jobs and only doing this “to help infertile couples” without any personal gain.

For others, sperm donation is a part-time job to help them get by.

“To tell the truth, I’m doing this because I’m jobless and have VND200 million [US$8,500] in bank debts to be paid,” said T., a donor from Dak Lak Province of the Central Highlands region.

T. said he was willing to show photos of his wedding and three-year-old child to those interested as proof of his “sperm quality."

Another Facebook page with nearly 1,500 followers claims to have access to “high-quality” sperm of engineers and celebrities that are guaranteed to become “smart angels” for receiving couples who are willing to pay a price.

Photos of babies said to be born from such donated sperm are posted by the page for advertising.

Prices are never public, as sperm sellers always ask to have arrangements discussed in detail through private messages.

A landlady in Ho Chi Minh City claims to have connections that can help infertile couples get access to donated sperms quickly. Photo: Hoang Loc / Tuoi Tre

A landlady in Ho Chi Minh City claims to have connections that can help infertile couples get access to donated sperms quickly. Photo: Hoang Loc / Tuoi Tre

Around the Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, a top facility for infertility treatment in southern Vietnam, unofficial sperm donation services are popular.

N., a landlady who runs a boarding house near Tu Du, said she had “connections” inside the hospital that could shorten the waiting period, typically lasting three to four months, for sperm recipients.

“I can show you the way and connect you with those that will have things done the fastest,” N. told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters who were going undercover as an infertile couple seeking help in May.

Around 1,000 cases of egg recipients and 700 cases of sperm recipients are registered in Vietnam every year, according to statistics from 23 authorized fertility support centers.

The current rate of official donations can only meet 60-80 percent of the demand.

This has led to a rise in illegal sperm trade, posing risks of inbreeding as a single donor may father many children who grow up unaware of their mutual paternal side.

According to the World Health Organization, inbreeding increases the chances of decreasing the fitness of the offspring due to loss of genetic variation.

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