13 April 2015
ByAppeared in BioNews 797
A Canadian couple from Port Hope, Ontario has filed a lawsuit against US-based sperm bank, Xytex, after they discovered that the sperm used to conceive their child was provided by a 'college drop out' with a criminal record and a history of schizophrenia.
They also claim that pictures of the donor had been altered to remove a large mole from his cheek. The allegations were reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, which relied on the claim form. The company says the claims reported do not reflect the information that was provided to them by the donor.
Angela Collins and Margaret Elizabeth Hanson decided to start a family in 2006 with the use of sperm donor. They said that they chose Xytex because they understood it only selected 'top prospects' to donate sperm, and that donors' health and education would be fully screened.
The couple states they were informed by Xytex that the particular donor they had chosen, who at the time was anonymous, was their 'best donor'. They allege that 'donor 9623' was described as having an IQ of 160, a bachelor's degree in neuroscience, a master's degree in artificial intelligence and was working towards his PhD in neuroscience engineering.
In addition to his academic achievements, donor 9623 was described as an eloquent speaker, mature beyond his years and healthy. In July 2007 the couple welcomed a healthy baby boy.
In June 2014, Xytex inadvertently disclosed the donor's identity in an email sent to Collins and Hanson, as well as to others who had used donor 9623. After Collins and Hanson conducted their own research, they found that the donor had been arrested for burglary and at one point had schizophrenia.
President of Xytex, Kevin O'Brien, has denied that the Canadian couple was misled, and explained that the company does not corroborate personal information provided by donors.
'He reported a good health history and stated in his application that he had no physical or medical impairments. This information was passed on to the couple, who were clearly informed the representations were reported by the donor and were not verified by Xytex,' O'Brien said.
O'Brien added that the donor had provided the company with signed photos of himself that were passed onto the couple without alteration, and that the donor also provided Xytex with copies of his undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Commenting on the case, Wendy Kramer, director of the Donor Sibling Registry, said that 'stories like this are not uncommon'.
'There is currently no oversight and little to no regulation in the sperm banking industry', she said, adding that 'donors can say whatever they like about their academics, medical history and background'.
Collins and Hanson say that had they known the donor's true history earlier, they would not have purchased his sperm from Xytex. The couple is attempting legal action against Xytex for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, breach of warranty, battery and unfair business practices.
O'Brien states that Xytex continues to uphold the highest practices and plans to fight the lawsuit. 'We stand by the process we followed and intend to vigorously defend ourselves against the allegations in the lawsuit,' he said.