An hospital in the Netherlands reported a former fertility doctor used his own sperm for artificial insemination without informing future parents. The case is not a first and more of them are expected to come out.
From 1977 to 1985, the former gynecologist in charge of artificial insemination in the Carolus Hospital admitted he used his own semen several times without permission.
The Jeroen Bosch Hospital, which merged with the Carolus Hospital, reported the information on its website on February 8. The hospital is located in 's-Hertogenbosch, also known as Den Bosch, a city of 150,000 people today.
The hospital considered it was a "social responsibility" to come forward with the news as every child "has the right to know who his or her father is and every woman should be able to rely on her doctor to do what has been agreed with her."
In 2021, a donor child came to the Jeroen Bosch Hospital because he suspected he was the child of former gynecologist Dr Henk Nagel. The doctor then performed a DNA test, which revealed he was indeed the biological father.
Between 1977 and 1985, Dr Henk Nagel was the only one of three OB/GYN to be in charge of artificial insemination. No treatment with sperm donation has been carried out in the Jeroen Bosch Hospital since 1994.
Future parents didn't know about it and as such didn't give their consent. The doctor admitted he used his own semen in three other occasions.
At the time, there was no regulation regarding donor conception. But the hospital considers "it was then ethically incorrect to use one's own sperm without informing the parents and asking for permission. We find it unacceptable that a fertility doctor has been a therapist and a sperm donor at the same time."
Further independent investigation will follow in order to find out exactly what happened and to what extent.
The hospital said the DNA profile of the former gynecologist was available in a DNA database of donors that aims to connect donors and children. The doctor's DNA didn't match with any other child in this database so far. Not every child is registered in the database but the application is free of charge.
According to De Volkskrant, the hospital chairman said Dr Henk Nagel did it at the time to help parents but he would not never do it again with today's perspective.
The tip of the iceberg
In the Netherlands, it is the fourth fertility doctor known to have secretly donated sperm without permission. More revelations, at least one shortly, are expected to follow.
In the end of 2020, the Isala hospital in Zwolle said the OB/GYN Jan Wildschut fathered at least 47 children with his own sperm between 1980 and 1994. He was unmasked in 2019 as several unrelated children's DNA matched in commercial DNA banks.
It turned out he sometimes replaced the husband's semen with his own. He kept no diary or notes when he was in charge of the clinic’s administration. He died in 2019.
Earlier this year, news came out that Jos Beek, a fertility doctor of the Elisabeth Hospital in Leiderdorp would be the biological father of at least 21 children born between the 1970s and 1980s without saying he was a sperm donor.
A few years ago, it came to light that Jan Karbaat's sperm was used in several clinics, including in his own IVF clinic in Rotterdam suburbs. He could be the secret biological father of approximately 80 children. Jan Karbaat passed away in 2017.
Dutch law limits to 25 the number of children who can be conceived from one sperm donor. Children have the right to know their donor’s identity when they are 16 since 2004. Before 2004, anonymous sperm donation was allowed in the Netherlands.
There was actually no regulation on sperm donation at the time.
Ties van der Meer, chairman of the Donorkind Foundation, thinks it's only the tip of the iceberg. Only 10% of the children know they are a donor child. Donorkind Foundation is an organization advocating for the right for donor children to know their biological parents.
At the time, sperm between donors used to be mixed, parents were advised to keep it as a secret, paperwork was not filled or kept for a maximum of 30 years, and the spirit was basically that parents would be happy they had a child.
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