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While fertility medicine continues to evolve, intended parents must be safeguarded in terms of a clinic identifying when donors are not up to par. Part of this protocol should only allow donors that pass an inclusive medical, psychological and background screening.
The case of Angela Collins and Elizabeth Hanson of Ontario, Canada, is unsettling. Why? Because they are alleging the sperm bank, Xytez Corporation located in Atlanta, misrepresented their donor on three counts: a criminal past, psychological disorder, and altering his photo to make him look more handsome.
The lawsuit was filed in Fulton County Superior Court.
David Markiewicz of the Atlanta Journal Constitution writes, “The couple says they understood that the company thoroughly vetted potential sperm donors, screening them for their educational backgrounds and health history, among other things, and only selected the top prospects. Collins and Hanson, according to the suit, were told that their then-anonymous donor had an IQ of 160, a bachelor of science degree in neuroscience and a master’s degree in artificial intelligence, and that he was working on his PhD in neuroscience engineering,” Markiewicz continues, “He also was described as an eloquent speaker, mature beyond his years, and healthy.”
The million dollar question is where was the fact-checking on his education? That’s fairly simple to do and most egg donors have to prove they have the degrees they say they have so why not for this sperm donor?
This raises another question.
What about the other donors they have listed? If they didn’t fact-check this man’s education, what does that say for the rest of their database?
Following an embryo transfer, Collins gave birth to their son in 2007.
Collins and Hanson never intentionally looked for their donor’s full name. He was always listed as “Donor 9623.” They discovered his full name was James Christian Aggeles in 2014 when emails from the sperm bank had his name listed.
From there, independent research on Aggeles began.
The reporter wrote, “Collins and Hanson and other families who had used Aggeles as a donor and who received the same information subsequently discovered through their own research that he is, according to the suit, schizophrenic, a college drop-out, and had been arrested for burglary, and that his pictures had been doctored to remove a large mole from his cheek.”
In my area of legal framework, most egg donors go through a psychological screening. Did this donor? A trained psychologist may have been able to tell that this donor suffered from a congenital mental illness and rejected him before he donated at all. And, once again, are the rest of this sperm bank’s donors undergoing a psychological evaluation?
According the reporter, Xytex issues a statement reading that it, “absolutely denies any assertion that it failed to comply with the highest standards for testing,” and tries a legal interception by stating that it, “is reviewing and investigating the allegations asserted.”
The company goes on to say that it tests donors before collection. It screens for genetic and infectious diseases.
While Aggeles was charged for burglary in 2005, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s office in Cobb County said he was discharged in 2014 under the First Offender Act.
Aggeles could not be reached for comment.
Wendy Kramer, director of the Donor Sibling Registry, told the reporter that stories such as this are not uncommon.
She points out, “There is currently no oversight and little to no regulation in the sperm banking industry. Donors can say whatever they like about their academics, medical history and background.”
And it’s not unusual for a donor to have fathered, “dozens of children.”
As for egg donors, they don’t create 55 children plus, but they are held to a higher screening standard than their male counterparts. Yes, it’s more consuming and expensive, but if those two policies were in place, this case wouldn’t exist.
It’s time for a change.