Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_93528

Scientist allegedly fathered 600 children at own sperm clinic

16 April 2012
Appeared in BioNews 652

A British scientist who ran a fertility clinic in London from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s, used his own sperm and may have fathered hundreds of children, it has been claimed.

The Barton clinic, run by Dr Bertold Wiesner and his wife Dr Mary Barton helped to conceive around 1,500 children. Genetic tests carried out on 18 of these people in 2007 showed that two thirds were Dr Wiesner's biological children.

Now, two of the children conceived at the clinic, Mr David Gollancz, a barrister from London, and Mr Barry Stevens, a film maker from Canada, have extrapolated this figure to suggest he could have fathered up to 600 children. They are currently making a documentary about donor-conceived children.

'A conservative estimate is that he would have been making 20 donations a year', Gollancz told the Sunday Times. 'Using standard figures for the number of live births which result, including allowances for twins and miscarriages, I estimate that he is responsible for between 300 and 600 children'.

According to Dr Allan Pacey, an expert in male fertility at University of Sheffield, this is 'plausible' as a healthy man could make up to 50 donations a year.

However, current legislation restricts the number of donations a man can make, due to the risk of two offspring meeting, as their children could have serious genetic problems. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act states that each donor can create up to ten families; there are no restrictions on the number of children per family.

It is believed that due to a shortage of donors Dr Wiesner provided the majority of samples.

The Barton Clinic promised to provide sperm only from 'intelligent' donors, and many of the donations were supplied by family friends. In 2001, one donor, neurochemist Derek Richter, was found to have fathered over 100 children through the Barton Clinic.

According to the Huffington Post, Dr Barton destroyed the clinic's medical records and so those conceived through donations made at the Barton Clinic have no way of finding details about their biological father. Dr Wiesner died in 1972 and Dr Barton later in 2001.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
26 August 2014 - by Nishat Hyder 
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has revealed that 504 sperm donors in the UK have between them 'fathered' more than 6,200 children....
28 April 2014 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
A University of Utah committee has concluded its investigation into allegations that in the early 1990s a fertility clinic worker allegedly switched a couple's sperm sample with his own....
10 February 2014 - by James Brooks 
Fonzy doesn't so much apply the formula of sperm-donor comedy 'Starbuck' as drop it like a concrete slab on an entirely different cultural context...
13 January 2014 - by Ari Haque 
A couple who used artificial insemination services at a Utah fertility clinic have found out that their daughter, Ashley, is in fact the genetic daughter of a former clinic worker...
7 May 2013 - by Ari Haque 
A man who claims to have fathered 49 children as a private sperm donor has been arrested on suspicion of sexual assault...
12 December 2011 - by Dr Nadeem Shaikh 
A man in the United States is reportedly being investigated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after offering his sperm for donation. Trent Arsenault, a 36 year-old computer security expert from California, has set up a website offering his sperm without charge to anyone who wishes to use it to have a baby....
26 September 2011 - by Jessica Ware 
The Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the UK's fertility regulator, has admitted breaches of the sperm donation limit have occurred, following news that one donor has fathered 17 families...
1 August 2011 - by Rose Palmer 
A man who fathered at least 24 children by sperm donation in the US failed to inform fertility clinics that he had a rare genetic defect which is often fatal, ABC news has reported...
22 November 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens 
A fertility doctor based in Greenwich, Connecticut, has been allowed to practice for seven years after being found guilty of using the wrong man's sperm to fertilise one of his IVF patient's eggs and further accused by one of his former patients of substituting his own sperm for her husband's in the conception of their two twin girls. The case was drawn to a close in 2005, when the clinician in question was forced to pay a $10,000 fine, but had been kept a secret until the information was dis...
HAVE YOUR SAY
Log in to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.