Final-year science student Harsh Raut’s lectures do not begin until noon. But on Mondays, the 21-year-old wakes up early and leaves for what he describes is his “part time job.”
Raut is a sperm donor. He earns Rs 500 for every “deposit” he makes at the sperm bank.
“I get pocket money from my parents for the basics,” he said. “This is an additional sum, so I blow it up on myself.”
His friend Vinay Das, 25, who is now studying to get into an MBA course, has also been donating his semen once a week since January. “It’s nice to get paid for doing something we anyway do at home,” said Das candidly.
Raut and Das are not the only ones donating their semen. Many college students are doing it, attracted by the easy money they get for a bout of self-gratification. Some of them also feel good that someone will benefit from their labours: donated sperm is used to help infertile couples conceive.
Cryos International, a sperm bank that opened in Mulund in September, has about 120 donors on its list, of which more than 80 are students, including IITians, medical and engineering students.
The numbers are increasing. “Every time a student becomes a donor, he brings five of his friends too,” said Dilip Patil, the sperm bank’s head, adding that two to three new students come to the bank offering to donate every day.
Students constitute about a third of the donors at Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital’s Centre for Human Reproduction and at Malpani Infertility Clinic’s sperm bank.
At Lilavati Hospital’s sperm bank, medical students are regular donors. “A lot of them donate because they are more aware and have liberal attitude,” said infertility specialist Dr Hrishikesh Pai, who runs the bank.
The banks pay Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 per semen sample. So donors can make Rs 4,000 to Rs 8,000 a month if they donate twice a week,
which is the maximum permitted (see box for other restrictions).
The students make good use of the money. Raut buys movie tickets. Das gets his mobile recharged the moment he leaves the sperm bank.
Engineering student Krish Pandey, who has been donating sperm for two months, uses the money for cigarettes and eating out.
Dr Kedar Ganla, who runs the bank at Hiranandani Hospital, said a lot of students also save the money to fund higher education.
Of course, the students also feel good that they are gifting lives. “This is social work,” said Pandey.
The demand for “intellectual” sperm is quite high. “Most couples want sperm from donors who are postgraduates,” said Dr Ganla.
Patil said many people specifically ask for sperm from IT engineers and medical graduates.
(Names of donors have been changed to protect their identities)