Page URL:

Dutch court rules donor families can test fertility doctor's DNA

5 June 2017
Appeared in BioNews 903

A court in the Netherlands has ruled that DNA tests can be performed on items belonging to a deceased fertility clinic director accused of using his own sperm for fertility treatments.

The Medisch Centrum Bijdorp fertility clinic – run by Dr Jan Karbaat from his house in Barendrecht, near Rotterdam – was closed in 2009 for failing to meet storage standards and paperwork irregularities.

Now, 12 children, aged eight to 36 years, and ten parents have mounted a court case to test their DNA against Dr Karbaat's, amid accusations that he used his own sperm rather than that of other donors to father the children.

Early in May, Dr Karbaat's son voluntarily donated his DNA for testing, and results revealed that the doctor could be the father of 19 children born though IVF.

It is not known, however, if any of those 19 individuals are among the 22 involved in the current court case, which ruled that Dr Karbaat's own DNA may now be obtained from any of the 27 items confiscated from his house following his death, including a toothbrush, nose hair trimmer and support stockings.

However, the results must remain sealed until more evidence can be shown, and another judge is required to rule whether or not Dr Karbaat's DNA can be compared with the DNA of the children involved.

A lawyer representing the 22 children and parents told the court that Dr Karbaat, who died in April this year, once claimed to have fathered 60 children through IVF. The lawyer representing Dr Karbaat's family has fought against the approval of DNA tests, saying that their privacy should be respected. Dr Karbaat himself had also specified in his will that his DNA samples not be taken.

Dutch law limits the number of people who can be conceived from one sperm donor to 25, and children have the right to find out their donor's identity when they are 16 (although donations made prior to 2004 may still be anonymous). Laura Bosch, a lawyer with Defence for Children who helped prepare the lawsuit, has argued, 'children who are donor-conceived have the same right as all the other children in society. We created a case where the right to know your parents is central.'

People born using donor sperm from Dr Karbaat's clinic have spoken to Dutch media about their anger and according to the BBC, should the DNA profiles match, the 22 individuals hope to sue the doctor's estate.

29 April 2019 - by Dr Rachel Montgomery 
DNA tests have confirmed a Dutch doctor fathered 49 children after secretly using his own sperm to impregnate women at his fertility clinic...
18 February 2019 - by Suzi Denton 
A Dutch court has granted permission for DNA tests to establish whether a deceased fertility doctor substituted his own sperm when treating patients...
3 December 2018 - by Suzi Denton 
A proposed bill in Indiana would make it a crime for a doctor to use his own sperm during fertility treatment without the patient's consent...
9 April 2018 - by Kathryn Ashe 
A US woman is suing her parents' former fertility doctor, after a home DNA test revealed he used his own semen to conceive her...
30 October 2017 - by Sarah Pritchard 
A retired US fertility doctor accused of using his own sperm to inseminate patients at his clinic will plead guilty to misleading investigators...
18 January 2016 - by Dr Linda Wijlaars 
A man from Luton, Bedfordshire, claims to have fathered 'in excess of 800 children' through unlicensed artificial sperm donations...
4 February 2013 - by Ari Haque 
Ottawa fertility doctor Norman Barwin has been suspended from practising medicine for two months after artificially inseminating women with the wrong sperm. Five women were involved in four incidents of receiving the wrong sperm between 1986 and 2007....
14 April 2008 - by MacKenna Roberts 
John Gonzalez, the founding director of a controversial UK-based online company - '', which delivered fresh sperm to women for DIY-insemination - was sentenced last week at the Wood Green Crown Court in London to sixteen months incarceration for five counts of fraudulent activities. Judge Juliet May QC said...
4 June 2004 - by BioNews 
A new law that requires sperm donors to be identifiable has come into force in the Netherlands, resulting in a dramatic drop in the number of men coming forward to donate. Women wanting to obtain sperm from Dutch sperm banks are now apparently facing up to two years on a...
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.