In line with the the vast unemployment rise following the coronavirus outbreak in Israel, the rate of sperm donation has also has risen as unemployed men from all backgrounds are looking for ways to make money.
Many men ranging in background anywhere from former soldiers who haven't been able to find work since their unfortunately timed release from the IDF amid the pandemic to hi-tech workers put on unpaid leave have started to donate their sperm as a way to make at least some kind of financial income during the current economic and health crises. So many in fact, that the rate of donation in both private and public hospitals has risen between 100%-300%, according to an N12 report.
The initial coronavirus lockdown in Israel caused many businesses to close down, leading to the high unemployment rates and thus the phenomenon of heightened donation rates. However, sperm banks themselves were closed during the lockdown, mainly due to lockdown restrictions and fears the virus could be transmitted via sperm.
It wasn't until after sperm banks reopened that they saw an increase in donations. Private sperm banks saw an increase in donation of 15-30%, while public banks in hospitals saw a jump in donations of between 100-300%.
“From our perspective, this is a good thing that allows us to give our patients a large choice of donors, and not fewer than a sperm bank in a private medical center,” said Dr. Ofer Feinro, manager of a hospital sperm bank. “Our goal as a public medical institution is to give to our patients the best service possible and the increase in the number of donors is a significant help.”
In a private sperm bank, a donor can make up to NIS 1,500 per donation depending on the donors credentials, such as education level, parental background, and military experience, according to the N12 report. In a public sperm bank a donor receives NIS 600, tax free, per donation. However, donors have the option of donating up to twice a week, giving public sperm banks donors the ability to make upwards of about NIS 4,800 a month.
"For just a few minutes of 'work' I can easily earn NIS 3,000 a month or more without much effort," Alon, 25, told N12. "It's a great way to make money during this period in which I'm unemployed," he added.
Before the pandemic, Alon was working as restaurant cook in Haifa but then racked up tens of thousands in debts after being laid off during the initial lockdown period leading him to moved back with his parents. In his search for a source of income, in order to survive financially, Alon came across an ad published at Rambam Hospital looking for sperm donors for the hospital's sperm bank.
"I know of many young people who came into a lot of debt because of the coronavirus, and decided to donate sperm at the private sperm banks or the hospitals so they would have money to pay off debts to survive this terrible time,” Alon added.
A Tel Aviv University student, 26, said that he had been given the idea to donate by a friend.
"I had never before been exposed to sperm banks. A good friend said I could join him to donate sperm and said it really paid off. For every donation, I can make NIS 1,000, NIS 1,500, which is better than nothing. At least I have a secure income so I don’t go broke and can pay rent,” the sudent said.
While unemployment may be the main reason attributed to the increase, Feinro also offers another explanation.
"Another reason besides the difficult economic situation that caused the increase in the number of sperm donors is also a campaign we did on the matter to encourage young people to donate sperm," he said.
"It allows us to do in-depth genetic testing beyond the basic tests that we are required to do according to Health Ministry procedures," he added.
According to Feinro, a basic test costs a patient about NIS 700 and a premium test costs double that, at NIS 1,400, while in private hospitals tests can cost upwards of thousands of shekels.
"The increase in donations allows the option to give our patients the basic and expensive treatment at relatively relatively cheap prices from private sperm banks when they receive the same service and treatment," Feinro concluded.