App could change what it means to start a family
PHOENIX (KSAZ) - In this day and age, the term "there's an app for that" literally means there is an app for just about everything, including having a baby.
For Noelle Frye, she wants a big family.
"I want 10 kids," said Frye. "I want 10 kids because I love kids."
Two years ago, when the 37-year-old met her now fiance, Brooke, there was no question they would have a child together.
"So we talked about her kids. She told me all about them. I was happy," said Frye.
The only concern was how, and about a year ago, Frye got creative.
"I was looking for a sperm bank, and I googled sperm bank, but for an app," said Frye.
That's when Frye came across "Just a Baby".
"The options -- it's not just for someone who's looking for sperm. There's people on there who have embryos. There's people on there, you know, a woman who can't have a baby, who wants a surrogate," said Frye.
Suddenly, the possibilities were endless. Frye compares Just a Baby to Tinder, an online dating app. People can swipe, accept, and connect with a possible donor.
"There are so many people who just want to have a baby," said Paul Ryan, CEO of Just a Baby, via a Skype interview from his home in Australia. "It's so natural, right, like 90% of people want to make babies at some point in their life."
Ryan created the app a year ago, with the simple goal of connecting people over the age of 18 who want to start a family.
"You download the app, enter a description of yourself, and you sort of introduce yourself biologically," said Ryan. "I've got sperm, for example. Maybe you've got eggs or a womb."
Users can add a photo, tell their story, and begin having conversations about what they're looking for. The feedback, according to Ryan, has been nothing short of what he describes as "heart warming". People worldwide are talking about just having a baby.
"What's so beautiful is that we are seeing so many people come out and really start to express themselves, like, when you have a look on just a baby, you can just see everyone's emotional story, and you hear a bit of their back story and what their values are," said Ryan.
Frye says she and Brooke explored other, more traditional options before committing to the app, but for her, a sperm bank didn't feel right.
"I want interaction. I do," said Frye. "I want to know who I am talking to, because you can be Denzel Washington and there might be things I don't like about you."
Sperm count, sperm health, and genetics are all factors that affect the quality of a donation. There are also health and safety concerns that experts in the field say may be better addressed at a sperm bank.
"There is serious concerns about the use of donor sperm or of donor tissue in general, and making sure that there are no transmittable diseases being passed from donor to recipient," said Angelo Allard with Phoenix Sperm Bank, via a Skype interview.
Allard, who is based in Seattle, isn't against the technology the app provides, or all the connections it can help people make, but explains that all sperm banks in the U.S. fall under the governance of the FDA, and that regulations are key. All donors must pass an initial analysis, and disclose family history.
"The most important step is the third step, when you come in and you receive a physical examination from our medical director, receive infectious disease genetic testing," said Allard. "At that point, you would be what we call conditionally qualified, begin providing specimen on a regular basis."
"Certainly, you need to go through those checks," said Ryan. "That's common sense, and the community, the people using Just a Baby understand that it's a heavy topic of conversation. All the checks and measures."
Ryan says safety is of the utmost importance for Just a Baby app users as well. The topic of conversation is at the forefront, but his goal is really just a baby.
And so is Frye's, who screens all the men she and Brooke talk to.
"A lot of the guys who are truly serious about it and they just want to help," said Frye. "Two of them, like, they had paperwork on it."
Frye and Brooke met the man they hope they can call a match. He's donated sperm four times, and they're preparing to try again.
The company's CEO says they are making changes everyday to meet a growing demand.
Just a Baby