Sperm Sample Required ASAP!

8th April 2020

One of the problems with oncology is that the treatment can in some circumstances affect your fertility. Many, many years ago I was lucky enough to meet a young man who would leave a lasting impression on me. He was about 17 years of age when I met him and we can call him Peter (not his real name of course). Peter had been diagnosed with a tumour and needed to start “emergency chemotherapy” straight away. In order to commence treatment we needed to collect a sample of semen (the stuff that makes babies) because the chemotherapy could potentially affect his fertility. This was usually “handled” by the fertility nurse but he was off and there was no one else apart from me, a relatively young junior doctor. The ward sister approached me and said “Tim, you are going to have to sort this out” I looked in horror as she gave me a £20 note followed by a wink. I knew exactly what this meant. You must remember that this was before the internet when those who were sexually frustrated would put on a mac (as in rain coat not computer) and sit in the back row of an “exotic” cinema viewing. So I took the £20 note and went to the newsagents around the corner from the hospital. I blushed before I could say a word and hovered around until there was no one else in the shop (which took quite a long time and the owner had clocked that I was acting fishy). “Please could I have 4 of your best pornographic magazines” I said in a hushed, rather embarrased voice and I then decided it would be a good idea to show him my identity card. He just stared at me. I picked four magazines based on the front covers. “You should have a girlfriend” he said, “I can introduce you to my niece if you like?”. I walked out with my magazines (hidden in my coat) and headed back to the hospital. I gave the magazines to Peter together with a sterile pot and ushered him into a private room. An hour went by before Peter emerged with an empty pot and shook his head. This was terrible. Without this sample we couldn’t proceed with the treament. I then felt a tap on my shoulder, it was Peter’s girlfriend “exscuse me Dr Tim, perhaps I can help?” She took the pot and 5 minutes later came back with a full pot. Job done! We started the chemotherapy an hour later.


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Posted in: Diary of a Children's Doctor by Dr Tim Ubhi

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