A chat with the man from Man Not Included - the firm that delivers sperm to your doorstep.
ï»¿Wendy Turner-Webster: When we're growing up, we'll dream of meeting a handsome prince and living happily ever after. However, for lots of women this fantasy never becomes a reality. So what do you do if you're desperate to have children but can't meet a suitable partner or if circumstances beyond your control interfere with your best laid plans. I am joined now by John Gonzales from the company Man Not Included. He reclaims to be the world's first and most successful home insemination service. Hello, John! How are you? John Gonzales: Hi! Good Morning. Wendy Turner-Webster: Now, it sounds slightly harsh, Man Not Included. John Gonzales: Yes, it's very harsh. Wendy Turner-Webster: Yes, it sounds very harsh. Tell me about it; just tell me about your company. John Gonzales: Man Not Included was formed about almost four years ago. I think it was really formed to help women who were having to advertise for sperm donors on the net. Wendy Turner-Webster: You mean single women or lesbian women. John Gonzales: Single and lesbian women. I mean we realistically we've sort of looked it over the past 3-4 years, to the people who are coming to us and the women who are coming to us and there's been decidedly larger shift to single heterosexual woman, that's quite staggering. The company itself was setup to provide a service where women could find a donor who've been beta tested, have the sperms delivered to them at home and inseminate themselves. And that's basically why the service was setup and how it works. Wendy Turner-Webster: How do you vet the donors themselves, so as the man? John Gonzales: We go through a vetting process or identification processes, photographic identification, address identification, then we go through testing process. The first and most important test is really the fertility test to make sure that they are fertile and they can help to father a child naturally. Then they go through health testing, STDs, HIV, if they happen to be from a particular genetic group, then we will carry out those particular tests as well. That is all vetting process. I mean all of our donors are need to be borrowed advices when they register. We talk to them. We go through their application, and then we tend to move on from there with them. Wendy Turner-Webster: Well, you've obviously found a real gap in the market, as you say for the single woman are wanting to use this service, well there is obviously a requirement for it. Is it right? Is it a right thing to feel for you to encourage to do to offer this service? John Gonzales: It's quite interesting because on the way of here I was talking to a taxi driver and as London Cabbie is talking, he was talking about what to do and everything else. Wendy Turner-Webster: You must have lots of interest in conversations like that. John Gonzales: I am very, very interested in conversations. And they're always offering to become donors. That is the great thing. Wendy Turner-Webster: How strange? John Gonzales: How strange is that? Now, basically the cab driver was saying that there are so many women that are on their own. You know this guy is also single and trying to date. He was saying that they just cannot find a man, a suitable man they want to marry and settle down with, is it right? The reality of life is we've had one parent family, to talk to and more of, that rate is going up. There are a lot of happy well-balanced children that are brought up by single mums all over the world. So it really is not that much of a difference in terms of how the child can be brought up. Wendy Turner-Webster: Just tell me how the mechanics of it work, because these people have to be local to each other, the donor and the receiver? John Gonzales: That's correct. Well, they do and they don't. I mean we provide a number of different services. We provide what we call a thawing sperm service which basically means that they will select a donor from our overseas banks, then that frozen sperm will be delivered to them at home. So in that side, they don't have to be local to them. The donor that they select, they would select on criteria of education, that sort of thing. If they are looking a fresh sperm donation then it will have to be within an hour-and-a-half of them. The mechanics are actually quite simple. We help all of our clients to track their ovulation. We then contact the donor, place them on standby for 3-4 days before they're required, so that they know that they have to make a donation within those days. Once the delivery is arranged then we arrange the collection which is collected in a sealed plain box, tamper-proof. The courier then delivers it to the recipient within usually an hour to an hour-and-a-half, and then with their insemination instructions they do the rest. The fact is, is that the woman that we treat can't see it quite naturally. So there are no fertility problems. However, the unlikely event where we discover a client that has a fertility problem, then we have partnerships with clinics where we refer them to those clinics and they go through clinical treatment. Wendy Turner-Webster: How likely is the scenario that a man, a donor could father a number of children in a fairly small geographical area, or the obvious problems that, they would tell you? John Gonzales: With our service it would be virtually impossible. We allow three live births per donor, and then sibling births after that. So it is very, very unlikely. Wendy Turner-Webster: So one of your donors can't just go on -- John Gonzales: No, no, they can't go on forever, never, never. Otherwise it becomes this baby making donor machine, so not at all, that isn't how it works. So we do operate very, very rigid guidelines on that. Once the donor is received, or he is father of three children, I like that policy, we say to them in writing thank you very much, we don't require you on our program. Wendy Turner-Webster: And in fact before you have no difficulty getting replacements, have no difficulty getting donors on board. Do you advertise for them? John Gonzales: Actually we've been quite lucky, we never really have to advertise for donors. Wendy Turner-Webster: It is word of mouth, I mean it goes around the males --? John Gonzales: Yeah. A lot of guys approaches who want to become sperm donors and we've actually seen a rise in number of donors since the law has changed, because we still operate an anonymous sperm donor service. Wendy Turner-Webster: Completely. John Gonzales: Totally completely, unless the recipient wants to select a donor, if he wants to be identified when the child is 18, in that case, we do offer the donors the opportunity to register for that service as well. So it really is giving the best of both as well. Wendy Turner-Webster: Would a donor be in it for the money, is it quite lucrative for the --? John Gonzales: Really no. I mean its Â£40 a donor, so it's not -- Wendy Turner-Webster: It's not big money making. John Gonzales: No. It's not as if we are going out and buying a sports car and a house on it. A lot of the guys do it because they want to help, and they see the fact that maybe they are never going to have children, maybe they are in a situation where they know somebody who has been through that process, and had problems, and that's basically difficult, they want to help other people who may will be in the same situation. Wendy Turner-Webster: What's the difference on a practical level or why would somebody choose to have a fresh sperm as opposed to frozen? What would the difference be if you were a woman making that decision? John Gonzales: The reality is, is that fresh sperm is quite a few percent more effective than frozen sperm, and that is what they are based on and thatâ€™s why weâ€™d make them to choose that above the frozen sperm. Wendy Turner-Webster: So do most people in your experience go for that option? John Gonzales: A lot of people do. I mean the fresh sperm option is almost, they almost know that it's going to be a more effective service. Wendy Turner-Webster: How big are your operations? UK at the moment, is it going into other parts of the world? John Gonzales: We cover Europe, and weâ€™ve now started to cover the United States. We had babies in Holland, Germany, a couple of conceptions in Sweden and that European organization continues to grow. I think it's also important to know that, that we have a whole host of other services that we provide through our main fertility group companies. Wendy Turner-Webster: Do you mean in terms of support and backup? John Gonzales: We provide medical support backup counseling, midwifery support, but we also have -- we can also offer through our other services like donors. We can offer clinical treatment, we can offer testing processes, and testing services. So there isn't just one organization, there is a whole host of organizations that makes us sound. And I think our plans are is that we will sort of eventually create this one organization where you can go to and it will give you the opportunity to choose either home insemination, clinical insemination, if you're on a three-year waiting list for an egg donor, we can cut that down to a matter of 6-8 weeks. We can then provide clinical treatments. So it's really try to provide everything, almost like a one stop shop for anybody who wishes to conceive a child. Wendy Turner-Webster: How expensive is it in the scenario of taking delivery of this say fresh sperm? How much money we're talking about? John Gonzales: On a per cycle basis, which mean per treatment basis, it is actually cheaper than going to a clinic. It's far more cost effective. So if you're looking at it per cycle, I suppose it would be around Â£370-390 per cycle. That is what it would cost you to receive your delivery. Wendy Turner-Webster: So it's obviously quite sort of attractive on a financial basis. John Gonzales: It's very attractive on a financial basis, but it's also very, very unintrusive, because you're not having to go through the clinical route where you're bound by certain regulations, you're bound to go through counseling, and there's a lot of poking and prodding around, there's lot of questions asked, and that is also finding an organization that will treat a single one, and that is the other big issue. So it is I suppose a combination of cost effectiveness but also a combination of making it simple for people to use as much as possible. Wendy Turner-Webster: And for them to keep some element of control -- John Gonzales: Of course. Wendy Turner-Webster: But, presumably you've come in for quite a bit of stick over there, but what kind of position have you faced, presumably as well from established bodies of people -- who have already faced. John Gonzales: I think that we've gone through the shock factor when we first launched. It was almost like oh God, its like lesbians having babies, that really shouldn't happen, we've sort of moved on from that. And I think to a certain extent, we've gain a lot of acceptability in terms of it. But also within the bodies that control fertility and clinical organizations and everything else. So I think that we've been through that, and there is that acceptance level. If we're going to have for four years, we've produced those results, our success rates are currently running at 33%. We've had well documentary successes. So I think it is that basis that we accept that you're doing the job properly and I think that there is always in the beginning, there's the unknown, are they doing everything properly, are they doing everything properly? Whereas now there have been touchwood no shock horror stories or anything. So there is that, there is that element of it, we do our job properly. Wendy Turner-Webster: Okay. Well, listen if somebody does want to contact Man Not Included, you just tell us how they get in touch with you? John Gonzales: They would log on to our website, www.mannotincluded.com or they would log on to www.fertilityforlife.com which is our group company sites and that will give them an overview of every service that we have. Wendy Turner-Webster: Okay! Thank you very much for coming in today and explaining it all to us John. Thank you very much!