A dutch gynecologist has inseminated patients with his own sperm without their knowledge and thus fathered at least 17 children.
The intended parents had not suspected anything and certainly had not given their consent, the isala hospital in zwolle announced. The doctor, who has since died, was a specialist in artificial insemination with donor sperm at a clinic in zwolle between 1981 and 1993. At that time, most donors were anonymous.
The isala hospital in zwolle, about 100 kilometers east of amsterdam, made the case public – also on behalf of the affected children and the doctor’s family. The behavior of the doctor is "morally unacceptable", the hospital declared. You can’t be a doctor and a donor at the same time – and certainly not without the patients’ consent.
The case came to light by accident. Some of the children, who are now adults, had independently started looking for their biological father. Her DNA samples matched those of other searchers – and also the DNA sample of one of the doctor’s cousins. A mother immediately recognized the name: it was that of her doctor at the time. The children informed his family, and the legally recognized children of the doctor agreed to a DNA match.
The wishing parents were "totally clueless", said ina kuper, from the management of the isala hospital. "The parents assumed an anonymous donor," she told the newspaper de stentor. The doctor’s motive may be explained by the severe shortage of donors at that time.
One of the mothers told the newspaper: "the doctor made a friendly, committed impression on us and showed integrity. (…) we never had even a slight suspicion that he himself could have been a donor." The woman only wanted to be quoted anonymously.
The hospital does not rule out the possibility that the doctor fathered more children. "At the time of insemination in the 1980s, intended parents were advised to keep silent about artificial insemination with donor sperm," the hospital’s statement says.
The affected children and the doctor’s relatives had brought the case to the public, also to break the taboo around sperm donation, as ina kuper from the hospital management said. "The families also believe that every child has the right to know his or her biological parents."
The health authorities were informed. But the case will have few legal consequences. Possible misdemeanors are passed.
A few years ago, a similar case in the netherlands had caused horror. A controversial reproductive doctor had fathered at least 49 children with his own sperm in the 1980s and 1990s. In this case, too, the parents knew nothing about it. However, the children had to force a match with the DNA of the now deceased doctor in court.
Anonymous sperm donations are no longer permitted in the netherlands since 2004.