Man donates sperm for 'research' – only to discover he fathered eight children

A Victorian man who donated sperm for research discovered 30 years later that he had fathered eight children.

A report from the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA) analysed sperm donor records that were kept by the Queen Victoria, Prince Henry’s and Royal Women’s Hospitals prior to the introduction of industry regulations in 1988.

The records were assumed lost but were rediscovered by the report's researchers – enabling those who thought they would never find their biological parent to get in contact with them.

The report revealed how one participant, who made six months’ worth of sperm donation at Prince Henry’s Hospital in 1978, later learnt that his samples were used for a little more than just research.

A sperm donor has now discovered his samples were used for a little more than research. Source: Getty
A sperm donor has now discovered his samples were used for a little more than research. Source: Getty

The man said he had not given much thought to the donations until he saw an advertisement in a newspaper asking men who had donated to get in contact with VARTA in 2007.

The donor said neither he or his wife had ever considered that there was going to be a child conceived from the donations, let alone eight.

“It was an absolute stunner when we got that letter,” the unidentified man said as part of a case study in the report.

“We’d never thought about that … It took a great bit of getting used to that because it came right out of the blue.”

Data held on sperm samples now means those conceived by a donor may be able to get in contact with their donor. Source: Getty
Data held on sperm samples now means those conceived by a donor may be able to get in contact with their donor. Source: Getty

While donor’s can select a “no contact” preference, legislation introduced in 2017 meant all donor conceived adults in Victoria can now acquire identifying information about their donor, even without their consent.

VARTA CEO Louise Johnson encouraged parents to reveal their children’s donor status to them, rather than them discovering it through an ancestry or DNA-testing site.

“We think there is still a large majority of people conceived (by donor sperm) prior to the introduction of the legislation in 1988 that still don’t know they were donor conceived,” she told News Corp.

The History of Donor Conception Records in Victoria will be available to the public on Wednesday night following its launch at the Louis Waller Lecture.

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