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Australian sperm donor investigated after fathering 23 children

7 December 2020
Appeared in BioNews 1075

A Brisbane sperm donor is currently under investigation by the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Authority (VARTA) for fathering 23 children in one year.

The Victorian law permits sperm donors to help up to ten women, including their partner, to conceive. Alan Phan, who already had two children of his own, had been donating sperm privately as well as through clinics, surpassing the legal limit. A couple have been unable to use two embryos created using Phan's sperm as a result.  

Louise Johnson, VARTA chief executive officer said: 'Once a treating clinic knows that more than ten families have been formed through one donor's donations, they cannot keep using that donor's sperm... In addition to this when a donor reaches the ten-family limit the clinic cannot use embryos already created using his sperm for a recipient who has not already had a child using that donor's sperm.'

The ten-family limit's aim is to prevent large numbers of siblings and half-siblings living in the same community.

Men donating sperm through registered fertility clinics have to sign a form disclosing whether they have reached the legal limit for donations or not. 

Johnson said: 'It is against the law to provide misleading information to a clinic as part of a consent process to donate'. 

Private sperm donations through online donations are increasing whilst fertility clinics are facing a shortage of sperm donors. 

The founder of Sperm Donation Australia, Adam Hooper, said: 'Men preferred to donate privately because it allowed them to choose who got their donation.' Hooper felt the investigation into Phan would create a dishonest system with donors using aliases and recipients avoiding registering their donors. 

'This will set a precedent that people will not report anything to them and will also potentially spell the end of clinics for those requiring donor sperm.' Instead, Hooper believes there is a need for a system in which online donors and clinics can work together.

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