Sperm banks give hope to couples when they feel they have nowhere else to turn. But this industry, which is dominated by a few very large companies, has come under intense scrutiny over the last few years. Several of the companies have even been sued. Some of these lawsuits are because samples have been lost, destroyed or misappropriated. But multiple families are suing a Georgia-based company in a jaw-dropping case.
On paper, Donor 9623 was a dream come true. He had a genius IQ, was an internationally acclaimed musician who also happened to speak 5 languages and was busy pursuing his PhD in neuroscience engineering. What prospective parent wouldn’t be interested in those genes? It is estimated that Donor 9623 fathered as many as 36 children in the U.S., Canada and Britain.
But in 2014, the company accidentally sent the donor’s email address to all of the recipient families. (There is probably another blog on information security here!) Some of the parents hit Google out of curiosity, but that curiosity quickly turned to bone-chilling fear. It turned out the donor was a nightmare. According to court documents, the donor had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, narcissistic personality disorder and grandiose delusions. He had also spent time in jail for burglary and took 20 years to complete his bachelor’s degree!
According to the sperm bank’s website at the time, their “donors ranked in the top 1% of the population in health and wellness.” While we cannot speak to how they may have missed so many pertinent medical issues, it is clear the company was not doing criminal background checks, nor were they doing something as simple as an education verification, which would have found many of the discrepancies in his claims.
Soon after the lawsuit came to light, companies that did not already do criminal background checks rushed to add them. Others put their criminal background check policy front and center on their websites.
Nothing can fix the pain these 36 families are feeling, or may feel in the future, but there is some consolation in knowing it will be a little bit harder for other con-artists to get away with such deception.