By Sabina Mollot
Two months ago, a midtown sperm bank raised some eyebrows in Stuyvesant Town when it sent out mailings to every apartment in the hope of recruiting NYU graduate and undergraduate donors.
“Go on spring break,” read postcards delivered to every apartment. “Pay for it by donating sperm.”
But despite all the controversy and some initial interest, the company, Manhattan Cryobank, isn’t exactly swimming in donations as a result.
Ty Kaliski, Cryobank CEO, said it had gotten applications from a “couple of handfuls” of young men in the community, but then not much in the way of followup. This will sometimes happen if a donor gets cold feet or just chooses not to follow through for other reasons.
“They sound great on paper, we contact them, but then we never hear from them,” said Kaliski. “We also contact them via phone.” As for the Stuy Town applicants, “Some of those guys were phenomenal. You can never tell if they’re geniuses, but there are extra-curricular activities. I wish we could get them through the door.”
That said, Kaliski said he has learned that it’s usually the candidates that sound the best in their applications who end up not working out.
“They disappoint you later because of the quality of the sample. But that’s not something you can tell in advance.”
And as for would-be donors who become uncomfortable at the thought of having biological children out there — that happens too.
“If someone comes in and says, ‘Unfortunately I don’t think this is for me,’ I say, ‘Listen, I respect that decision,’” said Kaliski. “We make sure they understand you shouldn’t be doing this for the money. Regardless of if you don’t know if a pregnancy has occurred, in the back of your mind you’ll be thinking about children. You have to be comfortable with that situation. We make sure they understand that when they come in.”
This, he added, is why the company is always on the lookout for a high volume – “thousands and thousands” — of applicants.
Meanwhile, as he told T&V, it’s not just as simple as producing sperm either. In fact applicants have a better chance at getting into an Ivy League university, with the acceptance rate for sperm donors being 1-3 percent of those who apply. For one thing, they have to be in possession of a four-year degree or in active pursuit of one. They also need to be 18-39 years of age (preferably not older than 35 though since the quality of the sample declines with age). Additionally, they have to be able to produce 10 million sperm per vial.
Repeat donors, who usually tend to be college graduates paying off student loans, can make up to $1,200 a month. However, they are expected to deposit once or twice a week (up to three). Per visit, they can make $80-$110.
Last December, Manhattan Cryobank, which is based on East 40th Street, attempted to recruit new donors by sending mailings to three neighborhoods that were targeted for being home to many New York University students. Stuyvesant Town was one as was another location on Third Avenue and Washington Square. Out of the three, the most responses came from Stuy Town. But only a couple made it as far as being able and willing to produce samples.
Kaliski naturally said he was hoping for more of a response. However, he hasn’t given up.
When asked if he was done with mailings, he answered, “I don’t know. We’ll see. It worked out. I just hoped it would be more. We may try again and see if we get a different response.”
He was also sympathetic to Stuy Town neighbors who were annoyed at the time about the complex becoming known as an off-campus dorm. “I wouldn’t want to live next to students either,” said Kaliski.