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Dutch woman tracks her sperm donor using DNA bank

5 June 2017
Appeared in BioNews 903

A donor-conceived Dutch woman, Emi Stikkelman, is the first to find her sperm donor using an American commercial DNA bank, Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant reports.

'Donors should register, because sooner or later we will find them,' Stikkelman told the paper. 'It is your right to know where you come from.'

Stikkelman had sent three DNA specimens to DNA banks: the commercial database revealed that she shared key genetic markers with an Australian woman. Using this information, she and family history researcher Els Leijs identified and traced her donor.

Popular commercial DNA databases such as 23andMe and Ancestry allow people to create their family tree and trace information about their heritage and biological relatives. They use a wider range of genetic markers than normal DNA banks (which use around 20 key markers), allowing matching with a wider pool of relatives.

'Did you donate sperm and see how incredibly it affects people's lives if they do not know who their father is?' said Netherland Minister of Public Health, Edith Schippers, who is encouraging anonymous sperm donors to reveal their identity, 'Then you can do a second incredibly good deed by just making yourself known'.

Before 2004 anonymous gamete donation was permissible in the Netherlands, but since then all donors have been required to record their identity. This allows donor conceived children aged 16 and over to access identifiable information about their donors, and also enforces the limit of 25 children per donor, reducing the chances of donor siblings accidentally developing an intimate relationship.

To help donor-conceived people find their biological relatives, Stikkelman and five others have set up Donor Detectives. 'There is a group who will do whatever it takes to trace their donor father,' said Stikkelman. According to Dutch News, Donor Detectives has sent 70 samples from people trying to trace their donors to DNA agencies so far, resulting in three people finding siblings.

Dutch Health minister calls on anonymous sperm donors to come forward
Netherlands Times |  2 June 2017
Dutch woman traces anonymous sperm donor father via dna banks
Dutch News Nl |  30 May 2017
Sperm donor anonymity disappearing as commercial DNA databases grow
Netherlands Times |  30 May 2017
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