Getting a sperm bank refund

What do you do if your doctor tests the thawed sperm and discovers that the count seems low? Can you get a refund? One woman on the Choice Mom board reported that she requested a refund, only to find that she was given a 40% refund for a low-count vial, instead of 100%, because the vial was only 40% low. Which seemed like an odd policy. So we queried other banks for their policies. Here’s what some of them reported:

Note: this article, and more, also appears in the 37-page 2015 Choice Mom E-Guide: About Sperm.

  • The Sperm Bank of California –If a sperm vial is deficient we would provide a full refund and our refund is not dependent on conception. I evaluate each complaint on a case-by-case basis as we receive very few. We’ve received three complaints in the last four months, and for one of them there was nothing wrong with the vial. (The MD told the recipient that the vial was low but when I spoke to the MD she said she was comparing it to a fresh sample.) This is a complaint rate of well under 0.3%. However, all of that said, we can’t guarantee a refund if the vial has been stored at another facility (including a medical office) or if the person who counted the vial doesn’t participate in a proficiency testing program or have a quality control program for sperm counts. If the facility doesn’t have a QA program for sperm counts, we will consider a refund only if the vial is returned unused. We don’t have a specific time frame, but we do ask that all concerns are reported promptly (related to when the vial was used, not when the vial was shipped), and that is usually not a problem. I have learned over the years that counting sperm is more of an art than a science and the majority of the vials returned to us actually meet our guaranteed minimums.We have had several situations where the vials were stored improperly at the clinic and/or where the clinic had faulty equipment that gave them inaccurate counts. We can’t be responsible in situations like these, which is why I speak with both the clinic and the recipient personally for all vials complaints.
  • California Cryobank: It is difficult for every sperm bank when having to handle substandard specimens claims but we try to keep ours straightforward. Our premium ICI vials should yield at least 15 million motile cells pre-processing and our IUI premium vials should yield at least 10 million motile cells. Most laboratories understand that there can be 10% – 20% interlaboratory variation so they should not consider a specimen substandard if it falls within those parameters. If the specimen falls below our guarantee, a full credit will be issued to our client. When issuing a credit we have only 4 conditions:
    1) The doctor should use a quantitative method for analyzing the specimens not just a wet drop estimate.
    2) The specimen cannot be stored out of our facility for over 60 days.
    3) The insemination did not result in pregnancy.
    4) The doctor’s office or laboratory needs to submit the specimen report to the cryobank.Once a specimen report is received it takes approximately 2 weeks for our quality assurance department to analyze the report and issue a credit through our accounting department. Once completed we mail a confirmation letter to the client.There is no specific time period given to submit a substandard specimen claim and although we ask that wait until you have had a pregnancy test, we respect our physicians if they find our specimen to be below our specifications and need us to send a replacement ASAP. Our goal is to achieve successful pregnancies so we do what we can to prevent anyone from missing a cycle.
  • Fertility Cryobank: We do not offer refunds but we will replace vials. All recipients are notified of this policy in writing and must sign a document containing the policy so this doesn’t come as a surprise later on.If the medical facility confirms in writing to FCB that an ICI vial of Recipient’s chosen donor contains less than 16 million motile sperm, an IUI vial contains less than 8 million motile sperm, or if an ART vial contains less than 4 million motile sperm, and that the deviation is not related to damage during transport or improper handling of sperm by the medical facility and the Recipient does not become pregnant, then at no additional charge to the Recipient, FCB will provide replacement samples from the same donor if possible, or from a donor of the Recipient’s choosing if the original donor is no longer available. Notification from the physician of the sub-standard sample must be submitted to FCB within 45 days of the sample being shipped from FCB.
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