FDA warns man to stop donating sperm over internet


(CBS) The FDA has issued a stern warning to Trent Arsenault of Fremont, California: Stop donating your sperm over the internet or you're going to prison.

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The 36-year-old engineer at Hewlett-Packard has been donating his sperm online since 2006, when he answered a personal ad from a local couple trying to have children, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Since then he's fathered 14 children and has more on the way. Last month alone he impregnated three women through his donated sperm.

"I know the holidays are busy," Arsenault jokingly told the Chronicle. "But I didn't know that included babies."

Arsenault donates his sperm because he believes sperm banks shouldn't charge women or couples seeking families. According to the Chronicle, he also likes that his donation isn't anonymous, which may allow him to one day have a relationship with the children.

Trent donates his sperm after signing contracts with prospective donors who visit his personal website. The site contains a breakdown of his vitals including his height, blood type, diet, and health history, as well as pictures of Arsenault throughout the years.

The FDA has been monitoring Arsenault for more than a year. The agency sent him an "order to cease manufacturing" in Nov. 2010 for distributing 328 donations of semen to 46 different women. The FDA cited that Arsenault's sperm is not tested for communicable diseases in compliance with federal regulations.

Arsenault told The Daily Beast in October that local police delivered the letter which said if he engages in the "recovery, processing, storage, labeling, packaging, or distribution" of sperm, he faces a fine up to $100,000 and a year in prison.

"I saved the FDA letter," Arsenault told The Daily Beast. "It may be worth something someday on eBay."

Arsenault is currently challening the order on the grounds that the FDA can't regulate him giving away sperm to someone he has a personal relationship with. He is allowed to provide his sperm while the case is pending.

But he's not the only who engages in this practice. There's a registry of free private sperm donors that set women up with donors without using sperm banks.

"We do not believe this is a service that recipients or donors should be charged for," reads the Free Sperm Donor Registry's website.

"If it's legal to go to a bar, get drunk, and sleep with a random stranger, then it can't possibly be illegal to provide clean, healthy sperm in a cup," the registry's founder, Beth Gardner, told The Daily Beast. Gardner is the first to admit however that not every donor may be "professional."

Doctor's are against these types of private donations because of safety concerns, but realize they occur.

"I know people will get their friends and just use the turkey baster or whatever. Clearly that happens," Dr. Lynn Westphal, a reproductive endocrinologist at Stanford, told the Chronicle. "But there are reasons for these FDA regulations. It's safer to have the sperm tested."