this is sooooooooooooooooo????
and it's long so i will only copy a bit of it
Mapping the God of Sperm
One of the Midwest's most prolific sperm donors may hold the key to understanding how genes affect our health.
Kirk Maxey with two of his known donor offspring: Caitlyn and Ashley Swetland.
By Rachel Lehmann-Haupt | Newsweek Web Exclusive
Dec 16, 2009
It's a crisp fall day in Northville, Mich., a small suburb of Ann Arbor, and Kirk Maxey, a soft-spoken, graying baby boomer with a classic square jaw, is watching his 12-year-old son chase a soccer ball toward the goal. Maxey is doing what he does every Saturday, along with hundreds of other family men and women across the country, but he's not your average soccer dad. Maxey, 51, happens to be one of the most prolific sperm donors in the country. Between 1980 and 1994, he donated at a Michigan clinic twice a week. He's looked at the records of his donations, multiplied by the number of individual vials each donation produced, and estimated the success of each vial resulting in a pregnancy. By his own calculations, he concluded that he is the biological father of nearly 400 children, spread across the state and possibly the country.
When Maxey was a medical student at the University of Michigan, his first wife, a nurse at a fertility clinic, persuaded him to start donating sperm to infertile couples. Maxey became the go-to stud for the clinic because his sperm had a high success rate of making women pregnant, which brought in good money for the clinic. Maxey himself made about $20 a donation, but says he was motivated to donate more out of a strong paternal instinct and sense of altruism. "I loved having kids, and to have these women doomed to wandering around with no family didn't seem right, and it's easy to come up with a semen donation," he says. "You would get a personal phone call from a nurse saying, 'The situation is urgent! We have a woman ovulating this morning. Can you be here in a half hour?' "
Maxey, now the CEO of Cayman Chemical, a 300-person global pharmaceutical company, says back then he just "didn't think about it a lot." He didn't have to. When he began volunteering, he wasn't asked to take any genetic tests and received no psychological screening or counseling. He merely signed a waiver of anonymity, locked himself in a room with a cup and a sexy magazine, and didn't consider the emotional or genetic consequences for another 30 years. Both his cavalier attitude and the clinic's lax standards, Maxey says, explain why he may have so many offspring. But now a fierce conscience is catching with his robust procreative drive. When he's not running his company, Maxey has become a devoted advocate for better government regulation of the sperm-donor business. He is also making his genome public through Harvard's Personal Genome Project, and hopes that the information collected there might one day help his offspring and their mothers. "I think it was quite reckless that sperm banks created so many offspring without keeping track of their or my health status," he says. "Since there could be [many families] that could have to know information about my health, this is my effort to correct the wrong."
Maxey began donating before sperm banking became the big visible business it is today, where single women and couples can purchase STD-free, Ivy League, celebrity-look-alike sperm that has been quarantined and meets FDA mandates. But, in the '70s and '80s, the business operated behind a veil of secrecy. A man could clandestinely make some extra cash by donating to an infertile couple, and more often than not the ob-gyn, not the prospective families, would choose the sperm—his favorite tennis partner, perhaps, or in the case of Kirk Maxey, the handsome, blue-eyed, Nordic husband of his nurse.
Now the confluence of genetic science and an increased awareness around the consequences of sperm donation is changing the game—and potentially the lives of Maxey's offspring. Today sperm donation is no longer a shadow business, partially because infertility, single motherhood, and homosexual parenting have become more socially acceptable. (The California Cryobank alone now sells an average of 30,000 vials of sperm a year.) At the same time, donors and offspring have begun to connect though genetic testing and Web sites like the Donor Sibling Registry. In 2007 two of Maxey's offspring, Ashley and Caitlyn Swetland, who are now 21 and 18, used the site to find Maxey, who had been a registered user since 2005. The sisters lived just 45 minutes away from Maxey, and soon began visiting a few times a year, going rock climbing with Maxey and his son or meeting up at an old-fashioned-style ice-cream parlor. No other children have come forward, but as Maxey's relationship with Ashley and Caitlyn progressed, he began to think about the consequences of his earlier donations.
"I had this 'Oh my God' moment, thinking, how many kids have been produced?" he says. "I thought the doctors were keeping track of each birth, but when I realized they weren't, I began to worry. What if they start dating one another?" He also began to worry about their genetic health. "I wanted to know if I have anything totally lethal or deranged or recessive in my genes that I may have passed along."
1 2 3 Next Page »