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Unlicensed sperm donor claims to have fathered 800 children

18 January 2016

By Dr Linda Wijlaars

Appeared in BioNews 835

A man from Luton, Bedfordshire, claims to have fathered 'in excess of 800 children' through unlicensed artificial sperm donations.

Simon Watson began by donating at sperm banks, but he has been offering unlicensed donations for 16 years.

Although unlicensed donation is legal, critics say the use of unregulated donors puts women at risk of sexually transmitted diseases and their children at risk of hereditary disorders.

Mr Watson, who at 41 has just passed the age range of eligible donors set out by guidelines from the HFEA, Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, finds most of his clients via Facebook. He offers his services for £50 (compared to £500 to £1000 at a private clinic).

'I give them a syringe with the pot, and then leave them to it,' he told the Victoria Derbyshire programme.

He estimates that he has fathered in excess of 800 children as 'usually one baby a week pops out'.

The use of unlicensed sperm donors has been rising in recent years. This rise is believed to be related to costs involved in using private clinics, and the 2005 change in law that means that people can no longer donate sperm anonymously.

Guidelines set out by the HFEA advise that sperm from one donor should be used to create no more than ten families. This limit is set to reduce the chance of two half-siblings unwittingly starting a relationship together. In addition, research suggests families would be comfortable with this number of half-siblings.

Laura Witjens, chief executive of the National Gamete Donation Trust, is critical of Mr Watson's operations. She told the Victoria Derbyshire programme: 'If you strip it down to bare facts, you have a man who for whatever reason feels they need to impregnate over 500 women; you have women who are comfortable knowing their children have 500 half siblings. In another setting people would be appalled. They would ask questions, find it very disturbing.'

Despite these concerns, Mr Watson does not intend to quit anytime soon. 'Within four years I would like to crack a thousand, if I can. I would like to get the world record ever, make sure no one else is going to break it, get as many as possible.'

Mr Watson is not the only unlicensed 'super donor' who has made a career out of donating. Dutchman Ed Houben has fathered around 100 children using natural insemination. He organises bi-annual events where his children can meet him and holds records of all of his children to reduce the risk of half-siblings starting a relationship.

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

29 August 2017 - by Jennifer Willows 
A man is being investigated in the Netherlands after claims he fathered over 100 children through sperm donation...
05 June 2017 - by Dr Rachel Brown 
A court in the Netherlands has ruled that DNA tests can be performed on items belonging to a deceased fertility clinic director accused of using his own sperm for fertility treatments...
14 March 2016 - by Ayala Ochert 
An IVF clinic in the UK has announced that it will offer sperm donors the chance to nominate a friend or family member for free IVF treatment....

11 January 2016 - by Dr Rosie Gilchrist 
Britain's largest sperm bank has been turning away potential donors who have dyslexia...
11 January 2016 - by Dr Julia Hill 
The Donor Detectives is an ABC radio documentary about donor-conceived people who have turned to alternative methods in an attempt to identify their biological fathers....
21 December 2015 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
The High Court has refused a man's application for direct contact with a child born to a same-sex couple using his sperm...
07 September 2015 - by Ayala Ochert 
A year after it opened, the UK's national sperm bank has only nine registered donors, says its chief executive Laura Witjens, who is planning a major new recruitment drive at the end of this month...
27 April 2015 - by Ari Haque 
A man who provided sperm to a female friend who then used it to conceive without sexual intercourse has been awarded parental rights by the Virginia Court of Appeals in the USA...

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