Sat, 04 Jun 1994

Family planning agency moves into banking -- of sperm

JAKARTA (JP): The Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (PKBI), which pioneered birth control programs in Indonesia as long ago as 1957, is now studying the prospect of opening the country's first sperm bank.

"We have sent our members abroad to study how to set up and run such a bank. We will also complete the feasibility study on its clinical aspects," PKBI chairman Kartono Mohamad told The Jakarta Post on Thursday. Kartono is also a physician.

The feasibility studies on the social and judicial aspects of the bank are still on the way, Kartono said, stressing that these were probably the most important factors to consider before the final decision could be made.

Mindful that the idea of a sperm bank might stir controversy, Kartono said his proposal is linked to the family planning program. The bank is intended for men who might want to save their sperm before undergoing a vasectomy.

The promise that men could still have children in the future could provide an incentive for more men to choose male sterilization as a method for family planning, one of the most effective available at present, said Kartono.

"The sperm can be stored in the bank for years so a man who has undergone a vasectomy who wants to have a child can have his frozen semen administered to make his wife pregnant. This is more practical than having to undergo a surgery to restore the resected spermatic duct," Kartono said.

The probability of the success of such restorative surgery is only about ten percent if the man was vasectomized using conventional vasectomy methods, Kartono said.

But if the man was vasectomized with micro-surgery -- which does not involve a scaplel -- the success probability can be increased to 60 percent, he said.

Although the latter method seems quite promising, doctors cannot guarantee that any restorative operation will be fully successful, Kartono said. He explained that this was why it was necessary to have a sperm bank.

About 32 percent of vasectomy recipients in Indonesia were won over through PKBI's efforts, Kartono said.

The association next week is holding its 9th national congress in Semarang, Central Java, to be attended by representatives from its 22 provincial and 146 regent branches.

Before the June 7-9 congress, PKBI will organize a seminar on the role of genetics in the human resources development.(arf)