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China calls on men to donate sperm

20 June 2016

By Sarah Gregory

Appeared in BioNews 856

The Chinese government is using social media to recruit sperm donors, according to a report in the New York Times.  

Men between the ages of 20 and 45 are reportedly being offered financial incentives and gifts such as iPhones to donate to sperm banks throughout the country because of a current shortage of donors.

The Chinese government fears a severe shortage of donations in the future, and state-run media is asking prospective volunteers to 'show their compassion' and 'help mitigate the country's ageing problem'.

'Donating sperm and donating blood are the same thing,' said one Beijing sperm bank, as reported in the New York Times. 'It's all about giving back to society.'

A Chinese study in 2011 found that almost half of volunteers were rejected, which has added to the shortage of donors. At the same time, demand has increased after China ended its 'one-child policy'.

Cash and social-media endorsements by popular computer game characters are being used as incentives to encourage men to donate. Last year, according to the South Morning China Post, two sperm banks - the Renji Hospital in Shanghai and another in Wuhan - offered iPhones to potential donors using the WeChat messaging service.

Potential donors were required to be men in their early 20s to mid-40s, at least 5 feet 4 inches tall, with no genetic disease and a university degree. Successful applicants were asked to donate at least 17ml of sperm over a six-month period. 

Chinese traditional medicine equates high levels of semen with vitality, which makes many young men reluctant to donate.

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