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Dutch woman tracks her sperm donor using DNA bank

05 June 2017

By Rikita Patel

Appeared in BioNews 903

A donor-conceived Dutch woman, Emi Stikkelman, is the first to find her sperm donor using an American commercial DNA bank, Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant reports.

'Donors should register, because sooner or later we will find them,' Stikkelman told the paper. 'It is your right to know where you come from.'

Stikkelman had sent three DNA specimens to DNA banks: the commercial database revealed that she shared key genetic markers with an Australian woman. Using this information, she and family history researcher Els Leijs identified and traced her donor.

Popular commercial DNA databases such as 23andMe and Ancestry allow people to create their family tree and trace information about their heritage and biological relatives. They use a wider range of genetic markers than normal DNA banks (which use around 20 key markers), allowing matching with a wider pool of relatives.

'Did you donate sperm and see how incredibly it affects people's lives if they do not know who their father is?' said Netherland Minister of Public Health, Edith Schippers, who is encouraging anonymous sperm donors to reveal their identity, 'Then you can do a second incredibly good deed by just making yourself known'.

Before 2004 anonymous gamete donation was permissible in the Netherlands, but since then all donors have been required to record their identity. This allows donor conceived children aged 16 and over to access identifiable information about their donors, and also enforces the limit of 25 children per donor, reducing the chances of donor siblings accidentally developing an intimate relationship.

To help donor-conceived people find their biological relatives, Stikkelman and five others have set up Donor Detectives. 'There is a group who will do whatever it takes to trace their donor father,' said Stikkelman. According to Dutch News, Donor Detectives has sent 70 samples from people trying to trace their donors to DNA agencies so far, resulting in three people finding siblings.


30 May 2017 - by Dr Lanay Griessner 
The German Parliament has passed the Sperm Donor Registry Act, which will allow children born from 2018 onwards to access their donors' information...
06 March 2017 - by Rikita Patel 
People conceived using donor eggs or sperm now have a legal right to identifiable information about their biological parents in Victoria, Australia...
12 January 2015 - by Dr Rachel Brown 
Regulations to legalise and govern the use of mitochondrial donation techniques have been placed before the UK Parliament....
01 October 2007 - by Ailsa Stevens 
According to one Nature columnist, 21 October 2004 marked the 'End of the beginning'; the day the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium published its 'gold standard' version of the human genome sequence (1). The Human Genome Project was set up in 1990 to read all the instructions needed to make...
03 November 2005 - by BioNews 
An American boy has found out the identity of his anonymous sperm donor using an online genealogy DNA testing firm, New Scientist magazine reports. His story means that donor anonymity can no longer be assured, according to an accompanying editorial. Following a change to the in April 2005, people conceived...

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