Saturday 15 August 2020

Children from donor sperm win right to collect fertility clinic doctor’s DNA

DNA testing. Photo:

More than 20 children conceived with sperm from a fertility clinic run by the late doctor Jan Karbaat have won the right to have his DNA examined, after a court ruling in Rotterdam on Friday.

The judge ruled that samples from 27 items confiscated after Karbaat died in April can be used to make a DNA profile.

Karbaat, who died aged 89, has been accused of using his own sperm to father scores of children at the Medisch Centrum Bijdorp, which he ran from the back of his house in Barendrecht, near Rotterdam.

‘Fresh seed’

The clinic was closed in 2009 for failing to meet storage standards and irregularities over paperwork.

Many children conceived through donor sperm have raised concerns that ‘fresh seed’ the doctor reportedly said he was fetching, was his own.

Twelve children and 10 parents had mounted a court case to try to test their DNA against Karbaat’s, against the will of his widow – who has not spoken publicly but has been represented in court by lawyer Lisette de Haan.

Positive matches

But, after the last sitting on May 12, Karbaat’s legal son voluntarily gave his DNA to the FIOM bank and allowed people who were registered there to be tested against this.

Last week, 18 people conceived through donor sperm from the clinic were confirmed as almost certainly Karbaat’s, reported NRC.

The court ruling, however, says Karbaat’s own DNA can be examined from confiscated items – reportedly including a toothbrush, nose hair trimmer and support stockings – but must be sealed. Any plaintiffs will need to start a new case to have their DNA tested against this.

Anger and angst

Pelle Biesmeijer, a spokesman for the court in Rotterdam, told that this is because the FIOM tests happened after the last sitting and – under Dutch law – cannot be considered. ‘The fact that there is this match makes the case stronger,’ he said. ‘In principle, they could start another court case in two weeks. The family of Mr Karbaat could also voluntarily allow his DNA to be tested against theirs.’

Dutch law limits the number of people who can be conceived from one sperm donor to 25, and children have the right to find out their donor’s identity when they are 16.

People born with donor sperm from Karbaat’s clinic have told Dutch media about their anger and angst about the doctor apparently ‘unethically’ using his own sperm.

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