Sperm donor who fathered at least 550 kids banned by Dutch court

Court says under Dutch guidelines, sperm donors are allowed to produce a maximum of 25 children with 12 mothers.

Frozen vials of sperm
Frozen vials of sperm preserved in an azote cooled container [File: Christian Hartmann/Reuters]

A Dutch court has banned a man from donating any more of his sperm after he fathered at least 550 children in the Netherlands and other countries and misled prospective parents about the number of offspring he helped to conceive.

A judge at The Hague District Court ordered the halt in an injunction on Friday brought by the mother of a child conceived with the donor’s sperm and a foundation representing other parents.

The mother, identified by the foundation only as Eva, welcomed the court’s decision.

“I hope that this ruling leads to a ban on mass donation and spreads like an oil slick to other countries. We must stand hand in hand around our children and protect them against this injustice,” Eva said in a statement.

The court noted under Dutch guidelines, sperm donors are allowed to produce a maximum of 25 children with 12 mothers, and the donor lied to prospective parents about his donation history.

The donor, identified as Jonathan M under Dutch privacy guidelines, provided sperm to several Dutch fertility clinics and to a clinic in Denmark, as well as to many other people he connected with through advertisements and online forums, the court said.

The donor’s lawyer said in a court hearing he wanted to help parents who would otherwise be unable to conceive.

‘Negative psychosocial consequences’

The judge who heard the civil case said the donor “deliberately lied about this in order to persuade the parents to take him as a donor”.

“All these parents are now confronted with the fact that the children in their family are part of a huge kinship network, with hundreds of half-siblings, which they did not choose,” the court said, adding this “could possibly have negative psychosocial consequences for the children”.

The case was about “conflicting fundamental rights. On the one hand, the right to respect the privacy of the parents and the donor children … and on the other hand the same right of the donor”, it said.

The court ruled “the interests of the donor children and their parents outweigh the interest of the donor in continuing to donate sperm to new prospective parents”.

Jonathan M was ordered to immediately halt all sperm donations and pay 100,000 euros ($110,000) per case if he breaches the ban.

Lawyer Mark de Hek called the ruling “a clear signal and, as far as I am concerned, a final warning to other mass donors”.

The case is the latest in a series of fertility scandals to hit the Netherlands.

In 2020, a deceased gynaecologist was accused of fathering at least 17 children with women thinking they were receiving sperm from anonymous donors.

The year before, it emerged a Rotterdam doctor fathered at least 49 children while inseminating women seeking treatment.

Source: News Agencies