Reader wonders about status of sperm bank


POSTED: Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Question: Could you help us find out what has happened to the Women's Clinic at 98-1254 Kaahumanu St. in Aiea? We have a five-year contract with the Hawaii Sperm Bank at that clinic that's going to expire next month. When we call the clinic, we get a recorded message saying the clinic is “;temporarily closed”; and for people to contact another doctor. But that doctor's office doesn't know what happened to the clinic, why people are being referred there or have any information about the sperm bank. How do we access the sperm bank? Is it still viable?

Answer: We could not find any information or contact number for Dr. Rick Williams, who operated the clinic and sperm bank.

We called the other doctor's office and was told they were caught off guard when patients of Williams began calling about a month ago. They did not know how to get in touch with Williams or why the clinic is closed.

If anyone connected with the Women's Clinic reads this, please call us at 529-4773 to let us know the status of the sperm bank.

The state Department of Health does not regulate sperm banks in Hawaii and referred us to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Sperm banks do have to register with the FDA, said Janet McDonald, spokeswoman for the FDA's San Francisco District.

However, she could not find Hawaii Sperm Bank on the list of registered establishments.

Neither could we, using the public query application on the FDA Web site, http://www.hsblinks.com/dm (scroll down to “;Establishment Registration”; and click on “;Public Query Application”;).

“;Generally speaking,”; McDonald said, the FDA's authority “;extends to assurance of donor-eligibility determination,”; meaning making sure that an establishment maintains and follows all procedures in testing, screening, and determining donor eligibility regarding human cell and tissue products.

Also, she said, the FDA, with limited exceptions, wants to make sure those products are not distributed if donors are found to be ineligible or if an eligibility determination hasn't been made.

We asked McDonald if there has to be some kind of notice if a sperm bank closes.

Federal regulations “;don't address the issue of closure, unless it relates to change in ownership,”; she said. “;If so, there are requirements for notification of the transition ... but merely from a registration perspective.”;

We also checked with the state business registration office to see if there was any contact information and was told that the Women's Clinic was registered by Williams in 1992, but that registration expired in 1993.

However, that's not a significant factor. As a sole proprietorship in the state of Hawaii, “;it's not required to register the name.”;

Question: There is a huge tree growing in the empty lot behind my house. How can I find out who owns this lot?

Answer: An easy way is by going to the city's online services Web site, www.co.honolulu.hi.us/main/online_services.

Click on “;GIS Parcel and Zoning Interactive Maps & Data”; and you can do a property search by address. It helps to have a specific address, but if not, you can probably zero in on the property by having a street name.

Write to “;Kokua Line”; at Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana, Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).