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Donor conceived baby put up for adoption over ethnicity and sperm donor sued for fraud

17 January 2022
Appeared in BioNews 1128

A Japanese woman is suing her sperm donor for fraud and emotional distress after discovering he lied about his credentials.

The woman had agreed to sex with the donor ­– who presented himself as single, Japanese, and a graduate of prestigious Kyoto University ­­– in order to conceive a child to raise with her husband. Her pregnancy was at an advanced stage when she discovered that the man was actually Chinese, married and not a graduate. The baby was put up for adoption after being born.

Lawyers representing the woman said that she was traumatised by the deception and that part of her reason for suing is to stop the donor from targeting more women. 'In Japan, there is no public system or legal system for sperm donation,' said the woman's lawyer.

The woman already had a child with her husband, but after finding out that he had a hereditary genetic condition they looked at other options to expand their family.

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis, where embryos are created via IVF and then tested for the genetic condition, is strictly regulated in Japan and difficult to access.

In 2019 when the woman conceived, there were no regulated sperm banks in Japan (the first opened in 2021). Demand for Japanese sperm outstrips supply and only 12 clinics in Japan perform artificial insemination with donor sperm.

Thus many Japanese couples have to choose between importing sperm from international sperm banks, which is expensive, or making informal arrangements with private donors outside clinic settings. Donations offered online are often cheap or free yet come with added legal and health risks. The woman in this case found her donor via social media and met with him in-person ten times before falling pregnant.

'Not only is this a safety issue, but it can also be criminal and extremely dangerous,' said Dr Hiroshi Okada, a professor at Dokkyo Medical University and director of Japan's first sperm bank. 'The semen that is handed over may carry infectious agents. We don't know if the sperm belongs to the donor or not. When the child is born, it may turn out that the sperm is not Japanese'.

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Comment ( - 15/03/2022)
To describe the baby as having been given up for adoption is not true. The baby has been rejected by its mother, with no thought as to the impact on its emotional wellbeing.
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