There are many mysteries one inherits when opting to use a stranger’s sperm to conceive. You can get some basics like ethnicity, eye color, education but other aspects are unknown. And one that can affect not just children conceived via a sperm donor but any child conceived at all – is the health issues of the father that are discovered after the child is born. But in a “traditional” family unit the family would be well aware of health problems that developed with the father. But for those in an anonymous situation, not so much. This is what happened with the 24 children born from one sperm donor, they could be victims of a fatal disease.
Rebecca Blackwell had a son named Tyler fifteen years ago. About three years ago they attempted to track down the donor, and through some stellar detective work, they were able to find him. But they also made a life-changing discovery. They learned that – as ABC New reported - “Tyler had inherited his father’s medical condition — a rare aortic heart defect that could have killed him at any moment.”
They had tried to make contact with the sperm donor but he never replied, but from an online ancestry website they found that not only did the donor have the disorder but that his two brothers and grandmother had the genetic disorder as well as a connective tissue disorder called Marfan’s syndrome
So this raises the question, are sperm donors morally and ethically responsible for updating the sperm banks when illnesses and genetic disorders are discovered?
One state is trying to change this. Washington will be “the first state to grant rights to donor-conceived people to gain access to crucial health information about their biological parents.” Also that “, “at a minimum, identifying information and medical history to the fertility clinic.”
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has guidelines in place. “Donors should be healthy and give no history to suggest hereditary diseases,” the guidelines state. “Some institutions offer chromosomal analysis on all donors, but it is not required.”
A spokesman for ASRM said “It’s unfortunate that anyone who has ever developed a disease or disorder, but they will and all you can do is use the best and most practical screening available at the time of donation,” he said. “You can’t screen for everything.”
Do you think there needs to be stricter guidelines for sperm donors? Especially a way to update families of health concerns that could greatly affect their children’s wellbeing?