Medical Issues

 

Make sure to report all births to your sperm bank!

Articles

Reported Issues

Medical Update Statistics

List of Reported Illnesses

 

Articles

4/14:  Fox News: It's time for states to outlaw anonymous sperm, ova donations

2/14 BioNews: Out-of-court settlement for girl conceived with abnormal donor sperm. (pdf)  A London fertility clinic has settled a claim over a 4-year-old girl born with the genetic defect balanced reciprocal chromosomal translocation, after a mix up in the sperm used in her conception. 

6/13 Flanders News: Danish sperm donor also passed on genetic disorder in Belgium (pdf)
Nordisck Cryobank's donor 7042 has passed along the rare NF1 genetic disorder to offspring.  Of the 43 children in 10 countries conceived with the help of the defective sperm, 9 have the disease (also known as Von Recklinghausen's disease), and 2 of those are in Belgium. NF1 is a rare genetic disorder affecting neurologic functions in humans.

5/13 NYU Interventional: Donor children live in ignorance of their father's illness (pdf)
Cryos in Denmark has been criticized by the National Board of Health for not adhering to the recommendation of 25 pregnancies per donor when it was discovered that 64 children may have inherited a rare disorder from their biological father, Donor 45.

3/13 Copenhagen Post: Sperm donor with genetic illness speaks out (pdf)
The Danish government health agency has been criticised for not looking for children who may have been born with a cancer-causing illness, Lynch Syndrome, inherited from an anonymous sperm donor. Even though the mortality rate can be significantly reduced with early treatment and diagnosis, the health authorities have decided not to search for the five to ten children who may have inherited the disease.

1/13 Readers Digest: Can you Inherit your Mother's Health? (pdf)
Many aspects of our health are genetically linked. According to researchers from the Institute of Cancer Research at the University of London, there's a 57 percent chance that a girl will start menstruating within three months of the date that her (biological) mother began. Here are 9 other women’s health conditions that experts say we may have inherited from our (biological) mothers...

11/12 America Now: Rolling genetic dice with a donor (pdf
Some ART facilities screen for some diseases, but few screen for potential genetically-inherited conditions.  This article talks about the repercussions when thorough screening hasn’t happened, and gives a synopsis of a few other articles on the same topic.  

9/12 BBC News: Denmark tightens sperm donor law after NF1 transmissions (pdf)
Due to a sperm donor passing along NF1, a rare genetic condition which affects the nervous system (and is untreatable), Denmark has passed new restrictions on Danish sperm bank operations, including limiting the number of offspring to 12 per donor.

9/12 Daily Mail: Danish sperm donor passes rare genetic disorder (pdf)
These two articles published 9/12 are referencing an earlier story, originally reported by DSR members (see the 5/11 Copenhagen Post article below).  The interesting thing about this story is that this donor is also a California Cryobank donor. We regularly hear stories about sperm donors passing along medical and genetic issues to children here in the US, but no regulation is ever initiated.

5/12 The New York Times: In Sperm Banks, a Matrix of Untested Genetic Disease (pdf)
The case of a child with cystic fibrosis, which was genetically linked to the donor used to conceive him, highlights the need for more regulation of the sperm bank industry, specifically around the genetic testing of sperm by cryobanks.  In this case, the sperm had been purchased from New England Cryogenic Center (NECC) who had purchased it from a bank that is no longer in business, and was at least 20 years old.

2/12 CBS: Parents Sue Cryogenic Center Over Child’s Cystic Fibrosis (pdf) (video)
This CBS report of the lawsuit brought against New England Cryogenic Center exposes that the sperm bank has faced very little oversight in its 30-year history.  It also points out that New York will not allow sale of NECC’s sperm donated at and purchased from another defunct cryobank. It is reported that NECC in initiated internal regulations surrounding that restriction, but did not remove that donor from their catalog.

7/11 ABC.com: Sperm Donor's 24 Kids Never Told About Fatal Illness (pdf) (video)
This article addresses the question of what regulation should be in place to protect children from conditions passed along by a donor, when a donor is not required to update the sperm bank where he donated.  The donor in question had surgery for Marfan’s Syndrome and an aortic defect, the same potentially-fatal heart condition that he passed on to at least one of his (at least) 24 offspring, who each have a 50% chance of having contracted the disease.  

6/11 Infertility & Reproductive News: Gamete Donation: Medical and Genetic Implications (pdf)
Wendy Kramer provides an overview of the medical issues that have exposed the lack of regulation of the sperm and egg donation industry, and offers recommendations for how to move forward in a more ethical way.  

6/11 The Copenhagen Post: Anonymous sperm donor passes on rare illness (pdf)
A donor used in the US, Sweden, Belgium and Denmark unknowingly passed along a genetic disease to at least nine children conceived using his sperm.

5/11 The Local: Swedish women warned over Danish sperm (pdf)
The preceding two 2011 articles are referencing California Cryobank and Nordic Cryobank Donor 7042 "Ralph."

4/11 2nd International Cryo Conference PowerPoint Presentation: The Case for Comprehensive Medical and Genetic Testing of Gamete Donors (PowerPoint) (poster pdf)
This PowerPoint, presented in Valencia, Spain, describes the medical issues associated with using donated sperm and/or eggs to assist with reproduction.

8/10 The Columbia Science and Technology Law Review: The Regulation of Genetic Aspects of Donated Reproductive Tissue—The Need for Federal Regulation (pdf)
This article provides a great overview of current medical practices in sperm banks and egg clinics, noting lawsuits involving medical issues, and making a case for federal regulation.

11/09 JAMA: Implications of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Transmitted by Sperm Donation (pdf)
Nine of a man’s 24 known offspring were genetically affected by his asymptomatic HCM, a genetic cardiovascular disease. At least one child has died.

11/09 JAMA: Genetic Screening of Sperm and Oocyte Donors: Ethical and Policy Implications (pdf)
This article discusses the current lack of regulation and the potential ramifications of the proposed mandate for genetic testing of sperm and egg donors. 

11/09 The Washington Times: Sperm donation testing falls short (pdf)
The Washington Times reports on the JAMA study of a man who passed HCM to his offspring via sperm donation.

11/09 BioNews: Sperm donor screening needs to be overhauled (pdf)
The DSR campaigns for more rigorous testing of sperm and egg donors for genetic diseases, and advocates the use of a monitored delay in the release of donor sperm to reassure users of its safety, and to track and limit the number of offspring from each donor.

11/09 The Washington Times: Doctor blames profit motive for sperm-donor diseases (pdf)
An interview with former DSR Board of Directors Chair, Kirk Maxey, discussing the lack of required testing of donated sperm.

5/09 BioNews: The case for comprehensive medical testing of gamete donors (pdf)
The DSR calls for mandatory genetic testing of egg and sperm donors.

4/08 O Magazine: The Children of Donor X (pdf)
Oprah's magazine follows the stories of several families who used the same anonymous sperm donor from California Cryobank. All of them are navigating medical issues that they attribute to genetic defects from the sperm donor.

10/06 Fairfax Cryobank: Letter to the Editor of Self Magazine (pdf)
Fairfax Cryobank responds to Self Magazine’s article, “The Truth About Donor 1084.”

10/06 Self Magazine: The Truth About Donor 1084 (pdf)
Self reports on Fairfax Cryobank donor 1084, and the medical issues he passed along to several offspring.  The story highlights the frustration of the families, who feel the sperm bank should have been more responsive to their concerns.

 

Other Reported Health and Genetic Issues

  • 2014   Another Case of Potentially Fatal Heart Disease

  • 2012:  Child born with Cystic Fibrosis from New England Cryogenic Center (NECC).
    [CBS: Parents Sue Cryogenic Center Over Child’s Cystic Fibrosis (pdf) (video)]

  • 2011:  At least nine children (Nordic Cryobank & California Cryobank) that have been conceived with the sperm of a man with a genetically inherited disorder  Neurofibromatosis  (NF1 or von Recklinghausen disease).
    Thelocal.com. 
    [1/12 Human Reproduction: Case Report: Reproductive Genetics (pdf)] 

  • 2009: London Women’s Clinic used chromosomally abnormal donor sperm to treat 11 women including a couple who had to destroy 22 embryos created over a year of treatment.
    The Independent and BioNews.

  • 2009: A child conceived using gametes from anonymous sperm and ova donors was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy type 1.
    Fertility and Sterility.

  • 2009: New England Cryogenic Center (NECC) sued by a woman claiming that her children inherited genetic disorders. Other families who used this donor also report issues.
    Boston Herald.

  • 2009: A Pacific Reproductive Services donor passed along HCM, a fatal heart disease, to 9 of his 22 known offspring. One child consequently died.
    JAMA.

  • 2008: Idant Laboratories sued by a mother whose daughter was a carrier of the Fragile X gene (FMR1) as a result of donor sperm.
    The Am. Journal of Med. Genetics.
    [8/09 Genomics Law Report: Strict Liability for Sperm? (pdf)]

  • 2008: Two donor sibling cohorts from California Cryobank have a very high percentage of their children diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Autism).
    O Magazine.

  • 2006: An International Cryogenics donor transmits Severe Congenital Neutropenia to at least 5 offspring.
    J Pediatrics.

  • 2006: A Fairfax Cryobank donor offspring diagnosed with Delta Storage Pool Deficiency (delta-SPD).
    Self Magazine.

  • 2004: A Fairfax Cryobank donor transmitted familial Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (FH), to twins, one child subsequently died.
    Self Magazine.

  • 2003: An egg donor passes along Cystic Fibrosis.
    [5/03 FindLaw: Better to Have Never Been Born? Wrongful Life Litigation (pdf)] 

  • 2002: A Dutch donor conceived 18 children before being diagnosed with Autosomal Dominant Cerebellar Ataxia (ADCA).
    J. Med. Ethics.

  • 2002: One recipient, two cases of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).
    Fertility and Sterility.

  • 2001: British-based donor of Australian origin with at least 43 offspring passed along potentially fatal genetic disorder, Opitz Syndrome.
    London Sunday Times.
    [11/11 The Guardian: Donor-conception: 'I'd got to the bottom of a secret' (pdf)]

  • 1995: California Cryobank donor who donated 1500 vials of sperm transmitted Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease.
    Johnson vs. California Cryobank.

 

Medical Updates

Currently, many US facilities either refuse to update donor/offspring medical information or, even if they accept updates, refuse to share the information. Or they make the process of reporting so complex and expensive that donors and recipients simply cannot comply or afford it. In addition, US sperm banks do not have an accurate accounting of all children born from any one donor, so if illness is reported, it is then impossible to notify all potentially affected families.

  • 84% of sperm donors have never been contacted by their clinic(s) for medical updates.
  • 96% of egg donors have never been contacted by their clinic(s) for medical updates.
  • 23% of sperm donors felt that they had medical/genetic issues that would be important to share with families.
  • 31% of egg donors felt they had medical/genetic issues that would be important to share with families.
  • 94% of sperm donors would have accepted an offer for genetic testing, had it had been offered by their sperm banks.

 

Genetic and Medical Illnesses and Disorders

Full list of genetic and medical illnesses and disorders reported by donors and recipient families on the Donor Sibling Registry:

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia , ADD, ADHD, Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum, Albinism, Alcoholism, Alpha 1 Deficiency, Alpha Thalassemia, Amniotic Band Syndrome, Apraxia, Arnold-Chiari malformation, Asperger’s, Asthma, Atrial Septal Defect (ACD), Autism, Bi-cuspid Aortic Valve Disease, Auto Immune Thyroiditis, Bi-Polar, Borderline Personality Disorder, Branched-chain Ketoaciduria,  Breast Cancer, Cardiac (ASD PDA) and Pulmonary Hypertension, Brain Aneuurysm, Canavan Disease, Cavemous Angioma, Cerebral Palsy, Chromosome abnormality:5p minus or Cri-du-chat, Coarctation of Aorta, Colon Cancer, Congenital Heart Disease, Congenital Hypothytoidism, Congenital Lobar Emphysema, Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, Craniosynostosis, Cystic Fibrosis, Cystic Hygroma, Dandy Walker Variant, Depression, Down Symdrome, Duarte Galactosemia, Dwayne Syndrome, Dysgraphia, Ebsteins Anolomy, Ectodermal Dysplasia, Ehlers Danlos III -Hyper mobility syndrome, Eosinophilic Esophagitis, Epilepsy, Febrile Seizures, Femoral Antiversion, Fragile X, Galactosemia, Genetic High Cholesterol, Goldenhar Syndrome, Graves Disease, Hashimoto's disease (chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis), Hemachromatosis, Hemoglobin D, Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis, Hole in Heart, Horseshoe Kidney, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, Hypophosphatasia, Hypoplastic left heart syndrome (also known as HLHS), Hypospadias, Hydrocephalus, Hypotonia, Ileal Atresia, Imperforated Anus, Juvenile Dermatomyositis, Juvenile Arthritis, Karatosis Pilaris , Kidney Reflux Stage 3, Kleinfelter’s Syndrome, Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, Lethal Dwarfing Syndrome, Leukemia, Lung Cancer, Maple Syrup Disease, Marcus Gunn Syndrome, Marfan’s, Medium Chain Acyl CoA Dehydrogenase Deficiency (MCAD), Medulloblastoma Brain Tumor, MTHFR C677T gene mutation, Melanoma, Mitral Valve Prolapse,  Multiple Hereditary Exostosses, ,Multiple Sclerosis, Myelomeningocele (Spina bifida), Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy (MMD), Nephrocalcinosis, Neublastoma Stage 3, Neurofibromatosis Type 1, NUT Midline Carcinoma, PANDAS, PCOS, PDD-NOS, PHACES Syndrome, Pectus Excavatum, Plagiocephaly, Polycystic Kidney Disease, Prader-Willi, Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, Prostate Cancer, Pyloric Stynosis, Radioulnar Synostosis, Rasmussen’s Encephalitis , Renal Disease, Retinoblastoma, Rett Syndrome, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Robersonian Translocation Chromosome, Rotary Nystagmus, Reitters Syndrome, SVT- Superventricular Tachycardia, Sagittal Craniosynostosis, Scoliosis, Sensory Integration Dysfunction, Severe Congenital Neutropenia, Sickle Cell Carrier, Seizure Disorders, Sieves Disease, Spastic Quad Cerebral Palsy, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Strabismus, Sub-Aortic Membrane, Tay Sachs, Tethered Spinal Cord Syndrome, Third Degree Heart Block, Thyroid Cancer, Torticollis, Tourettes, Trachea Esophogeal Fistuala, Tetrology of Fallot, Truncus Arteriosis, Type I and Type II  Diabetes,  Ulcerative Colitis, Vacteral Association, Van Der Woude Syndrome, Vasovagal Syncope, Vesico-Uretal Reflux, Von Willebrand Disease, Williams -Beuren Syndrome , Wilm’s Tumor (Kidney Cancer), Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, Zellweger Synndrome.