Testicular donations are extremely rare. The testicles are well understood by scientists, and there’s little to no demand for testicles by medical researchers. Donated testicles also aren’t transplanted to other people, largely because of ethical concerns. Only a handful of testicle transplants have ever been performed between people.

Some online articles claim that you can sell a testicle for tens of thousands of dollars. However, this is essentially false. In the United States, it’s illegal to sell an organ for the purpose of transplantation.

Keep reading to learn more about why testicular donation isn’t common and what organs can be donated instead.

Donating a testicle isn’t possible except in extremely rare situations. Theoretical reasons for donating a testicle would include advancing medical research or providing it as a transplant for a person without functioning testicles.

But medical researchers already have a comprehensive understanding of how testicles work. You’re overwhelmingly unlikely to find a research group looking for a testicle.

Beyond a handful of case studies, testicles aren’t transplanted between people, largely for ethical reasons. Germ cells in the testicles that create sperm produce sperm with the genetics of the donor, not the person receiving the testicle. A testicle transplant could lead to the recipient fathering children with the donor’s DNA.

Hormone replacement therapy and prosthetic testicles are used in place of testicle donations for:

  • people who lost their testicles
  • people born without testicles due to birth irregularities
  • people undergoing gender affirming surgery

Testicular transplantation between humans remains extremely rare.

A 2019 New York Times article reports the story of a 36-year-old man without testicles who received a testicle transplant from his identical brother in Serbia. However, it’s only the third known testicle transplant and the first in more than 40 years.

The first report of a human testicle transplant was in 1978. The surgeons transplanted a testicle from a male twin with full testicular function to his identical twin brother born with none. Within 2 hours of surgery, testosterone levels were normal in both the donor and recipient. Sperm count and motility also reached normal levels in the recipient.

Animal studies of testicular and ovarian implants have been successful, but transplantations in humans remain experimental and risky. The surgical operation requires highly specialized microsurgical and vascular techniques.

In the United States, it’s not legal to sell a testicle or other organ. One reason why it’s illegal is to make sure wealthy individuals don’t have an unfair ability to get donated organs for transplantations.

Maintaining equal access to donated organs regardless of wealth is just one ethical concern. Taking an organ by force without permission or selling organs for much-needed money is another ethical concern.

In rare cases, medical researchers may offer people financial compensation to participate in a study. However, the chances that researchers will need a testicle are extremely low to nonexistent.

Debunking internet myths

The prevalent internet myth that you can sell a testicle for tens of thousands of dollars might come from the story of Mark Parisi. He appeared in an episode of TLC’s “Extreme Cheapskates” where he planned to donate a testicle to scientific research for $35,000.

However, the researchers weren’t paying for his testicle but for understanding how his body would react to a prosthetic. The study eventually got canceled due to a lack of participants.

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Interestingly, selling one kidney is legal in Iran, a practice that some believe exploits those who live in poverty. Others believe it serves the greater good by eliminating organ shortages and ensuring informed consent practices and safer surgical procedures — both of which are missing in the black market of illegal organ selling.

Donating a testicle or other organ is largely an altruistic action. By definition, a donation means you don’t receive financial compensation. For the donor, there are no known health benefits to donating a testicle. In theory, it could benefit a person receiving the testicle for a transplant.

The testicles have two primary functions: They produce most of the body’s supply of the hormone testosterone, and they produce sperm.

Receiving a functional testicle could stabilize the body’s testosterone levels without the need for hormone replacement therapy, as in the case of the 1978 transplant. It could also help the recipient father a child, albeit with the donor’s DNA.

A testicular transplant could also theoretically increase the self-esteem and body satisfaction of the recipient. However, people receiving a prosthetic testicle after surgical removal of a testicle already report high levels of satisfaction.

In theory, donating a testicle could also help advance medical research, but it’s extremely rare for researchers to need a testicle. A rare example would be the canceled study that Mark Parisi planned to undergo, in which researchers were studying how the body would react to a prosthetic. But that study required the removal of a testicle, not the transplantation of the testicle.

Another example of a rare situation where researchers may want a testicle is if you have testicular cancer and they want to study the cancer cells. In these cases, researchers would only use a small portion of tissue from the diseased testicle. The testicle would never be considered for transplantation into another person.

The Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) doesn’t list testicles as an organ that can be donated while you’re alive. You can find more information by calling the United Network for Organ Sharing at 888-894-6361 or visiting their website. Organs that they do list for live donation include:

You can donate a large variety of organs and tissues after you pass away. You can register as an organ donor through the HRSA website or through your local motor vehicle department.

Another option is to donate your body to science after you pass away. For some states, such as Florida and Texas, you can contact the state anatomical boards. In other states, you need to directly contact medical institutions. You can find more information about each state here.

In extremely rare situations, scientists may be looking for testicular donations for medical research. You can search ClinicalTrials.gov for current testicular research.

In theory, you can donate a testicle for medical research. However, you will likely have trouble finding a research group to take it.

Testicular donations are also rarely used for transplantation due to ethical concerns. There have only been a handful of documented cases of testicles being donated between people. In the United States, it’s illegal to sell an organ for transplantation.

You can learn more about donating organs from the HRSA website. If you want to become an organ donor after you pass away, you can register on their website or through your local motor vehicle department.