By now, if you own a television and watch it occasionally, you’ve seen the promos for Friday’s “Delivery Man,” wherein a “lawyer from a sperm bank” breaks the news to Vince Vaughn’s protagonist character that due to some sort of clerical error, he is the biological father of 533 children out in the world. In the words of someone who once took his talents to South Beach: not one, not two, not three, not four… but 533.
That’s, um, a lot of children. And considering, just for example, how many real-life couples awkwardly admit to their reluctant friends that they are “trying to have a baby right now,” the plot begs the obvious question: Why, Vince Vaughn? Why?
Is 533 kids from a sperm bank by one dude something that could actually happen? Do broke college males have to think twice the next time they’re next to an examination table holding a Playboy from 1988? And what would become of such a sperm bank were it to accidentally give out 533 samples of one batch of semen and essentially shrug and say “Sorry about that, bro” to the offended party?
We asked our own version of Neil Degrasse Tyson, Dr. Grace Centola, the past president of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, these questions and more. And she dropped some numbahs, folks.
“Considering the probability of pregnancy using frozen sperm — 20 to 30 percent and the probability of successful pregnancy with a live birth v10 percent — it would take a minimum of 1,250 vials of sperm to ‘make’ 500 children,” Centola said, providing us with an image of Vaughn nobody should have while eating. “If a normal ejaculate results in about four vials, this would mean that the man would have had to donate about 300 ejaculates. No sperm bank would allow a donor to donate that many specimens over a several year period of time.”
And thank goodness for that, lest the donor become frighteningly megalomaniacal. (Or chafed.) Side note: At what point, if you’re the donor and they keep inviting you back and paying you for donations, do you start wondering if you’re being filmed in the act by sociopaths who work there for their weird, paywall-accessible illegal websites? We didn’t ask Dr. Grace that because we’re not creepers, but we did ask her what kind of mistakes a sperm bank would have to make in order for this to happen in real life, and if someone would be fired over it:
“There would have to be a total breakdown of any policies and procedures, lack of quality control and checks and balances, and certainly [a] lack of honest management for this to occur in real life,” she said. “Not only would a person or persons be fired, but the facility would also be closed. Such a facility would not survive the industry.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Carl Herbert, president of the Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco, suggests that, based on his own calculations considering biological recovery time, weekend sperm bank closings and a donor’s likely social and work obligations outside of semen donation, “It would take [Vaughn's character] seven to 10 years to collect the sperm needed for 533 children!!!!!” Those are his exclamation points, but they may as well be all of ours. Wouldn’t it be fun if the ending to “Delivery Man” had Vaughn breaking down and admitting that he went to the same sperm bank several times a week for 10 years in order to quell his paranoid fear of adult loneliness? No? That wouldn’t be fun and would be super weird? Let’s move on.
Finally, Centola and Herbert agreed that a central fear of allowing the same man to father 533 children, apart from global domination by one family a-la a real life “Game of Thrones” would be the risk of two of the children unknowingly falling in love and reproducing themselves, causing birth defects. (So, yes, just like “Game of Thrones.”) Will two of Vaughn’s children in “Delivery Man” conceive a child with a mole with a tooth inside it and an extra finger?
We’ll just have to see.
“Delivery Man,” starring Vince Vaughn, hits theaters November 22.