A Danish sperm donor passed a severe genetic disorder to five children after tests did not detect it and the fertilisation clinic failed to act on evidence that a baby had been diagnosed with the illness.
The man, known only as "donor 7042", fathered 43 children, in breach of rules limiting the number to 25, after giving sperm to Copenhagen's Nordisk Cryobank clinic. But as well as fertilising the clinic's clients, the donor was also transmitting the tumour-producing nerve disorder known as Neurofibromatosis type I (NF1) or Von Recklinghausen's disease.
Parents are considering legal action after it emerged that the sperm bank was told in June 2009 that one of the children born to the donor had been diagnosed with the genetic illness but failed to act. "Our team of physicians and our geneticist looked at the case but didn't consider there to be reason enough to suspect it was the donor and therefore no reason to stop the use of his sperm," said Peter Bower, the clinic's director, according to TheLocal.se website.
NF1 is a genetic disorder that causes tumours to grow around nerves, with symptoms including, high blood pressure, bone deformity, scoliosis, learning difficulties and eye problems including tumours on the optic nerve. Anne-Marie Vangsted, the head of the Danish Health and Medicines Authority, has criticised Nordisk Cryobank for failing to withdraw the sperm when it first became aware of the problem.
Among the 43 children fathered by "donor 7042" are 18 children in Sweden and Norway. Karianne Vedin, a Norwegian mother whose child was fathered using the donor's sperm, is considering legal action after being informed by post that the donor was carrying a hereditary disease and that their daughter was at risk of inheriting it.
"Luckily she is one of the healthy ones, but I feel very sad for those that have been affected by this," she told the Norwegian national broadcaster NRK. "We want to reveal the truth behind the whole system. They are just after the money. It's obvious when you see how many times this donor was used. We do not want this to happen to anyone else."
Under new rules that will apply from next week, the Danish health authorities have limited the use of sperm from a single donor to 12 pregnancies with an immediate ban if any donor is suspected of having passed on a genetic disorder.
Article: 25th September 2012 www.telegraph.co.uk
Read more about the advantages of choosing a known sperm donor at www.prideangel.com