A doctor is suing a fertility clinic in Oregon, USA, for being 'irresponsible' with the sperm he had donated.
In 1989, medical student Bryce Cleary donated sperm samples to the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) to be used for treatment. His consent allowed his samples to be used for no more than five children, and stipulated all women using the samples must be from out of state. He now believes his sperm has been used to father at least 17 children, some of whom live within his neighbourhood
'The idea that you can produce that many children from one donor and throw them all in the same region? […] There has got to be some reforms. I can't control an industry, but I can sure stand up and say, "This isn't cool",' he told OregonLive.
Dr Cleary discovered what had happened with his samples when two of his biological children contacted him, identifying him using DNA testing website Ancestry.com and information obtained from the clinic. He subsequently put his own DNA on the Ancestry site and matched to 15 more children, most living with the Oregon area. At least two of these donor-conceived children have attended the same college and church as the children he shares with his wife.
Dr Cleary has so far met three of his donor offspring and feels 'profoundly distressed' at the 'moral, ethical, and personal obligations' he now faces in regard to his multiple children, despite knowing he has no legal responsibilities to them. He is also aware that his search was limited to the data available on the Ancestry site, so the true number of children conceived from his sperm is unknown, and if, as the lawsuit claims, OHSU did not keep records of how the sperm samples were used, he may never definitively know.
Allysen Allee, one of Dr Cleary's donor-conceived children, does not intend to sue but expressed her concern for the issues this case now raises. She said: 'I'm expecting my third child right now, […] and the idea of my children having dozens and dozens of cousins that will be their ages and in the area is concerning… It feels like OHSU really didn't take into consideration the fact that they were creating humans. They were reckless with this, and it feels like it was just money and numbers to them.'
OHSU refused to comment on the case but said: 'OHSU treats any allegation of misconduct with the gravity it deserves.'