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A shocking story made headlines last year, putting all those who have used or have thought about using an anonymous sperm donor on edge. James Christian Aggeles, a sperm donor for the Georgia sperm bank Xytex, provided fabricated information about himself.
His profile, “Donor 9623,” lured 26 families into using his sperm to complete their families, from which 36 children were born. Donor 9623 attracted so many parents because of his resume of impressive accomplishments: he was completing his PhD in neuroscience engineering, was in tiptop shape, boasted an IQ of 160, and had no history of family disease except for his father’s color blindness.
However, the real background of Donor 9623 could not have been further from the truth. Sadly, Aggeles, 39, was a convicted felon, never graduated from college, and suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
This alarming discovery was made by Canadian residents Angela Collins and Margaret Elizabeth Hanson, who used Donor 9623 to help conceive their son back in 2007. They learned the truth after Xytex inadvertently sent them e-mail correspondences about their donor which included his name.
Following some internet investigation, the couple realized that they had been misled and deceived. Serious concerns about the well-being of their child ensued.
“It was like a dream turned nightmare in an instant,” said Collins in an interview with the Toronto Star.
The couple sued Xytex last year, but the case was dismissed by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney, because it was based on a “wrongful birth” cause of action.
Last October, CBS News reported, “Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney wrote in an order filed Tuesday that while the lawsuit makes allegations including fraud, negligence and product liability, each claim is ‘rooted in the concept of wrongful birth,’ which isn’t recognized under Georgia law.” The article continued with the judge’s order, “The concept of ‘wrongful birth’ arises when parents claim they would not have gone forward with a birth if they had been fully informed of a fetus’ condition.”
However, Collins and Hanson are determined in their pursuit of justice. They have refiled their case, which legal professionals expect will explore alternative theories of liability.
In the latest case to be filed, Collins and Hanson may not be fighting the battle alone. The New York Daily News reports that the couples’ San Francisco-based lawyer, Nancy Hersh, is representing 15 other clients living in the United States and Great Britain who may join the suit against Xytex.
The current lawsuit also elaborates that Aggeles was a donor from 2000 to 2014 and has helped conceive children ranging in age from toddlers to 12.
Last year, Collins and Hanson voiced concerns in their lawsuit stating that while their son is healthy today, he will need to be regularly evaluated for any symptoms of schizophrenia. According to medical professionals, symptoms generally manifest between ages 16 and 30.
In the same CBS News story reported last year, “The couple [Collins and Hanson] wants a medical monitoring fund established for the estimated three dozen children of the donor so they can be tested and treated, if necessary.”
Establishing a medical fund would be an excellent idea. Sperm banks, however, need to establish best practices and confirm information provided by their donors. It’s what reputable egg donor agencies have been doing for years. A simple phone call, email or letter would have confirmed that this donor never graduated from college. That that was never done, is appalling, considering this company was helping families create children. Consequences of this magnitude are unacceptable, and it should be more difficult for potential donors to lie and make it through the screening process.