Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Perils and Pitfalls of Donor Sperm

"Nobody on this planet would ever want a child who could potentially be sick. Nobody in their right mind would ever wish that on their child."
"Everybody wants their child to be healthy, so you are not going to pick a [semen] donor who has cancer or comes from a family with big health problems."
Diane [last name withheld], northern Ontario resident

"This is the third non-compliant rating that Health Canada has issued to Outreach Health Services for its importation activities related to donor semen processed by the European Sperm Bank since 2009."
"Even with all the corrective actions implemented by the [Denmark-based] European Sperm Bank, donor semen is still being supplied to the Canadian market that is not compliant with the semen regulations."
"Certain health and behaviour criteria such as drug use, exposure to foreign blood or body fluids were not adequately assessed [through Newmarket-based Outreach Health Services' importation of donor semen from the U.S.-based Seattle Sperm Bank] as part of the donor screening process."
Rebecca Gilman, spokesperson, Health Canada
Three Ontario families have launched lawsuits against a U.S.-based sperm bank and its Canadian distributor alleging they were misled about their sperm donor's medical and social history.
There are twenty-six mothers, women who became pregnant through In Vitro Fertilization techniques, using donor sperm from an American man identified as Xytex Donor 9623, who was presented on the data available to prospective mothers as an intellectually brilliant man possessing multiple university degrees, whose photograph for the women to scrutinize was that of a fit-appearing, handsome young man.

This man sold his sperm between the years 2000 to 2014, later distributed and used to enable women to give birth to an estimated thirty-six children; 17 girls and 19 boys. A problem has since surfaced, identifying the 40-year-old as Chris Aggeles of Georgia. And he happened really to be a college dropout, not the brilliant academic scholar he was purported to be. Moreover, he is anchored to a criminal past, and perhaps much worse, is the host of a medley of serious mental illnesses.

Collins, pictured avobe with her son, said she chose 'donor 9623' because he was 'the male version of my partner'. The mothers who used donor 9623's sperm learned of the man's real identity in 2014 when Xytex released information inadvertently and 'in a breach of confidentiality'.
Collins, pictured above with her son, said she chose 'donor 9623' because he was 'the male version of my partner'. The mothers who used donor 9623's sperm learned of the man's real identity in 2014 when Xytex released information inadvertently and 'in a breach of confidentiality'.

Now, three women from Ontario who became mothers through this amazingly insufficiently-regulated donor process are suing the importer of the sperm as well as the American sperm bank for what they now view as an agonizingly fraught decision to trust those sources. They understand that their trust was also misplaced in the fertility clinics who used the unregulated sperm to impregnate them. Sperm bank Xytex Corp. and Outreach Health Services have been implicated in other Ontario births with the very same vexing concern; their children's genetic predisposition to mental illness.

The donor was diagnosed with schizophrenia, which is inherited by ten percent of children with a parent suffering from the malady, according to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health. Xytex itself had inadvertently identified the identity of the donor when emailing a few women who had trustingly made use of his sperm to become pregnant and later had questions they wanted answered. When women researched the name Chris Aggeles online they discovered a posting that he himself had written discussing his own struggles with schizophrenia.

A Georgia court was in possession of documents revealing that Aggeles had pleaded guilty in 2005 to a charge of burglary, receiving a sentence of eight months in prison. Medical records listed as evidence indicate he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and narcissistic personality disorder. He had, as well, described himself for court records as having schizoaffective disorder. This is a man who has been anything but a success in life, experiencing great difficulty holding down jobs.

The lawsuits lodged against Xytex and Outreach on behalf of the three Ontario mothers cite failure to investigate, fraud and negligent misrepresentation. One of the plaintiffs described in her claim that "She was advised by Outreach that Xytex Corp. was the largest and most reliable sperm bank." She found, studying the catalogue, that Donor 9623 had two university degrees with a third in the works, a clean medical history and apparently robust sperm. Her suit states that "A client specialist with Outreach told the plaintiff that Donor 9623 was one of Xytex's most popular donors and that he already had [sired] ten offspring."

Perhaps most infuriating of all was that this client had been attempting to once again become pregnant. Her lawsuit states that at the very time she had become aware of Aggeles' health problems, the two companies had attempted to sell her additional units of this very same man's frozen semen six months after they had become aware of his falsified records after having been informed by other mothers of their discovery of his mental health problems.

Aggeles sold his sperm to Xytex between 2000 and 2014, and some was stored to be made available after 2014

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