Bioethics News

Sperm donor scandal rocks US

Parents of donor-conceived children are suing a US sperm bank after it was discovered that one of the bank’s donors was a convicted criminal and schizophrenic.

Georgia-based Xytex Corp, the company at the centre of the lawsuit, advertised donor 9623 as a dream biological father, boasting a high IQ and impressive professional accomplishments (including being a PhD candidate in neuroscience engineering). After the man’s sperm was used to produce 36 children, one customer who had used the sperm accidentally stumbled across donor 9623’s true identity.

According to the claimants, the man has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, narcissistic personality disorder and grandiose delusions. They also allege the 39-year-old from Georgia spent eight months in jail after a residential burglary in 2005 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree just last year, 20 years after enrolling.

The information “made my heart sink like a lead ball into my stomach,” said Angela Collins, a parent who had used the man’s sperm.

Collins, who is one of the claimants, wants sperm banks to better screen donors, including carrying out medical and criminal background checks. She also hopes to push Xytex to create a medical fund for children affected by Donor 9623, to be used for intervention and treatment should any of them show signs of mental illness at a later date.

In a public statement Xytex has denied any wrongdoing.

“In this case, the donor underwent a standard medical exam and provided extensive personal and health information,” wrote Xytex president Kevin  M. O’Brien. “He reported a good health history and stated in his application that he had no physical or medical impairments.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.