29 August 2017
ByAppeared in BioNews 915
A man is being investigated in the Netherlands after claims he fathered over 100 children through sperm donation.
The man has not been named but spoke to a Dutch newspaper, saying that he was not motivated by a desire to father large numbers of children. Rather, 'I just like to do it and to make people happy.' He added: 'It makes me feel helpful. The gratitude of doctors and prospective parents is great. Clinics are already happy if they have a donor who passes the screening.'
Sperm donors are supposed to be limited to 25 offspring, and sign an agreement to donate at a single clinic only. The case has brought calls for a national sperm donor registry - at the moment each clinic keeps its own records and there is no mechanism to cross check files of other establishments.
The Dutch Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (NVOG) have called for sperm banks to immediately stop using the man's sperm, as well as that of another man found to have donated at two separate clinics. Both men have also been offering to donate their sperm outside the clinical setting. 'We do not have information about how many children have come from these donors through this route because they are happening outside the hospital,' said the NVOG.
The limit of 25 offspring has been in effect since 1992 and is designed to keep levels of consanguinity among donor-conceived people similar to that in the overall population. When a donor's genetic material is present in a large number of offspring, the (very small) risk that two half-siblings might form an intimate relationship is increased.
This is not the first scandal surrounding sperm donation in the Netherlands. Dr Jan Karbaat, who ran one of the Netherland's largest sperm banks, had been suspected of substituting his own sperm in procedures carried out at his fertility clinic dating back to the 1980s, but denied it and refused to provide a DNA sample for testing. After he died in April 2017, a sample was taken and found to match some children conceived at his clinic (see BioNews 903).