Sperm Donor’s Profile Hid Mental Illness and Crime, Lawsuits Say


NY Times:

Sperm Donor’s Profile Hid Mental Illness and Crime, Lawsuits Say

When Angela Collins and her partner wanted to have a child, they reached out to a sperm bank in Georgia to look for potential donors. They thought they had found the perfect match in Donor 9623, described as a man with an I.Q. of 160 who was healthy and working toward his Ph.D.But in 2014, about seven years after Ms. Collins gave birth to their son, she and her partner, Elizabeth Hanson, made an upsetting discovery after learning the man’s identity through a donor sibling group. The donor had a history of mental illness and a criminal record, and had exaggerated his educational accomplishments, they say.
“It was like a lead ball went to the bottom of our stomach for both my partner and I,” Ms. Collins said in a radio interview last week with “As It Happens” on the Canadian network CBC.

She added, “We know nobody is perfect, but we didn’t sign up to choose knowingly that our donor had schizophrenia.”
Ms. Collins and Ms. Hanson, who live in Port Hope, Ontario, about 70 miles east of Toronto, were among three families who filed lawsuits in Ontario Superior Court this month accusing the sperm bank, Xytex Corp., in Augusta, Ga., of misleading them about the donor. The suit says the company failed to describe him accurately or disclose that he had a mental illness and a criminal record.

The three lawsuits are the first in an expanding group of cases that go to the heart of privacy and health issues as more would-be parents — many of them single or in same-sex partnerships — seek donors to help them conceive, said Nancy Hersh, a lawyer in San Francisco who is representing Ms. Collins and the other families.
“This is a huge problem,” Ms. Hersh said in a telephone interview. “Lots of people will avail themselves of sperm banks, and it is important that the public will be educated about the risks. It is a public health issue.”

Ms. Hersh said at least a dozen other American, Canadian and British families were planning lawsuits related to Donor 9623. The 15 families she represents have conceived 23 children using the donor’s sperm, all with “a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia, which nobody knew at the time they purchased his sperm.”
The three lawsuits are each seeking more than 4 million Canadian dollars (about $3 million in United States currency) in damages, partly to provide support and pre-emptive care for children the families fear will be affected by mental illness.
A lawyer for Xytex, Ted Lavender, said he would not comment on the case. But he noted that in October, a county judge in Georgia tossed out a similar claim by Ms. Collins and her partner.

This reminds me of the science fiction writer author Larry Niven’s future author’s future history series. People are only allowed to reproduce by IVF and no one can reproduce who has any kind of mental or medical condition, even those that can be easily treated.

I’m sure these lawsuits will become more common. When reproduction becomes a commercial transaction one will naturally seek the highest quality so we’ll see more suits from disappointed customers. I pity the poor kids whose parents consider them substandard merchandise.


That’s just so weird.

Did the donor do it for payment? Maybe that’s why he “embellished” his past. I am not sure why anyone would make stuff up and present it as real.

I hope the baby is ok, poor little fellow.


so the donor banks assume people walk in and are truthful about their profile? they don’t verify medical history? how much are donors paid for donating their sperm?


I suspect the identity verification is as honest and people’s as identities on the internet.


Former Secretary of State,
Alexander Haig


LOL! :thumbsup:


Well, I know when you donate plasma and you are paid for it, they do ask you a whole series of medical questions, but they depend on the person being honest, no verification is done, I believe its the same way with donating blood, but no one is paid for giving blood of course.

I have heard a couple people over the years talk about donating sperm, I think they do pay, but its not much, maybe $50-75. at the most.




I know this isn’t very sympathetic, but why would they think a company whose business is in genetic engineering (albeit on a small scale) would a) be able to guarantee that the resulting baby would be exactly what they wanted, b) no recessive genes wouldn’t come to the forefront, or c) would know or care about the donors lifestyles and or illnesses if there were no genetic markers.

If they knew anything about genetics, they would know that you can not predict what the results of conception will be.


That’s not much to the type of men that they want to donate sperm: tall, white, handsome, multiple advanced degrees, and a successful career. But it is no wonder that a homeless man would be motivated enough to lie to get at that money. I imagine that successful men are not exactly jumping at the opportunity to masturbate for money so the sperm bank is in the position to want to believe the lies as well.


you make good points.


Interesting that none of the people suing claim their children were schizophrenic . The lawsuit says they have a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia . A quick Google show that although there may be a genetic component to schizophrenia many many other factors are involved also . Looks to me like people out to make a quick buck , that is after their lawyer takes a third.

We’re I the judge in this case I would have any money awarded put into a trust fund to be given for the care of only a child that ended up having schizophrenia .


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