Uh, can you say “wow that’s unethical!” In the case of Bertold Wiesner, it sure is. Reports say Weiesner ran a fertility clinic in London from the 1940s to the 1960s, a place where women could get assistance in conceiving using “high IQ” sperm donors. But the women who were inseminated there – which resulted in about 1,500 babies – probably didn’t think the boss was their baby’s father. As Jezebel notes, the women were under the impression that the sperm came from “a small number of highly intelligent friends.” A very small number. As it turns out, almost half of the babies born – around 600 – are being thought to be the result of Wiesner’s own donations. And that’s not all…
The clinic made the news awhile ago when it was reveled that a neurochemist named Derek Richter fathered about 100 babies via the same clinic. The newest discovery about Wiesner was made when two men – Barry Stevens and David Gollancz – began researching who their own origins (both their mothers visited the clinic). DNA tests were done and it turns out from “18 of the people who were conceived there between 1943 and 1962, and it’s clear that two-thirds of them were fathered by Mr. Wiesner.” When the numbers are run over the time period Wiesner ran the clinic, it looks to be around 600 babies could have been born from his sperm.
And this, it’s a problem. The Telegraph notes that, “The same sperm donor should not be used to create so many children because of the risk that two of the offspring will unwittingly meet and start a family of their own, which could cause serious genetic problems in their children.”
Wiesner’s wife – who ran the clinic with him – was apparently under the belief that the sperm donations were coming from a wide variety of men, “He was the one that found the donors so it’s possible that he didn’t tell his wife and she believed the donations were coming from a lot of different men.” Why would he do this? It may have been an ego thing, wanted to spread his seed far and wide. Or maybe it was just to save money, instead of paying men for their contributions, he could just provide his own for free. But we may never know. Wiesner died back in 1972. One thing for sure, if all the kids born from his seed got together, that would be a pretty epic family reunion of sisters and brothers.