I was reading an old issue of Popular Science magazine in our college library last week, and one of the articles was titled ‘The Worst Jobs in Science’. Job no. 7 on that countdown list was ‘Semen Washer’!
These are the guys who do the dirty work down at the local sperm bank. No, not the ‘dirty’ work of donating, but the work of handling the donations that have already been made!
The article states,
“Laboriously prescreened "donors" emerge from a so-called collection room that is stocked with girlie mags and triple-X DVDs. They hand over their deposit, get their $75, and leave. The semen washers take the seminal goo and place a sample under the microscope for a sperm count. Next comes the washing. The techs spin the sample in a centrifuge to separate the "plasma" from the motile cells. Then they add a preservative, and it's off to the freezer, where it can stay for 20 years. Or not. Thanks to semen washers (and in vitro fertilization), more than 250,000 babies have been delivered in the U.S. since 1995.”
However, the part that interested me the most was the last paragraph. Diana Schillinger, the lab manager at one of the Los Angeles Sperm Banks, says,
“The hardest part is explaining it to friends. But we do have stories. Like the donor who was in the room for the longest time. We had a big discussion about who was going to check on him. Turns out he thought he had to fill up the entire specimen cup.”
Poor guy! That’s what happens when you don’t pay attention to instructions!