A Fertile Foundation: How This Los Angeles Doctor Gives

photo: Christoph Burgstedt/shutterstock

photo: Christoph Burgstedt/shutterstock

Cappy Rothman spent his teenage years in Cuba at his father’s nightclub and casino, sometimes ferrying money between the island nation and banks back stateside in a briefcase chained to his wrist. He worked as an organizer for Jimmy Hoffa to raise extra money as a student at University of Miami before later moving to the West Coast to complete his residency at Harbor/UCLA Medical Center, University of California San Francisco, and Loma Linda University.

Rothman studied under pioneering urologist Frank Hinman, sparking an interest in the subject of infertility. In the mid-1970s, he became the first male infertility specialist in Los Angeles. And today, he’s known in some circles as the “King of Sperm,” and founder of California Cryobank, one of the largest sperm banks in the country. Rothman is also the founder of the Center for Male Reproductive Medicine & Vasectomy Reversal. In one of Rothman's early headlining moves, he was asked to save a U.S. senator's son's sperm after the son tragically died in a car crash. Rothman published the first article on postmortem sperm retrieval, and later appeared on Oprah to talk through the process.

The fertility business has exploded in recent decades, and California Cryobank was once the largest sperm bank in the world, with enough—well, seed—to repopulate the planet several times over. According to Grand View Research, a market-research firm in California, the global sperm-bank business could be worth nearly $5 billion by 2025.

Rothman is no billionaire, but it's safe to say he's made quite a bit of cash through the years, and is an example of new kinds of industries in which sizable wealth can be accumulated, often later put toward philanthropy. We're tracking a growing number of donors who've been emerging lately from health and biotech.

Rothman moves his giving through the Cappy and Beth Rothman Family Foundation, which he established with his wife Beth in 2014. In a recent year, the foundation gave away around $141,000. Unsurprisingly, reproductive health is important to this donor. Other interests include Jewish and environmental causes.

Via their foundation, the Rothmans have supported places like Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles; UCLA Urology Department (Rothman was a clinical instructor at UCLA), Fertile Action, a cancer charity working to "ensure fertile women touched by the disease can become mothers"; Camp Kesem at UCLA, the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, Heal the Bay and LACMA. 

Unfortunately for grantseekers, the Cappy and Beth Rothman Family Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals. Perhaps more money will move through the foundation in the coming years. Rothman is in his 80s, a time when many donors step up their giving with on an eye on their philanthropic legacy.