Tuesday, September 6, 2011

150 kids from one sperm donor

Posted By on Tue, Sep 6, 2011 at 12:33 PM


This is creepy. Scary and a sign of the times.

Cynthia Daily and her partner used a sperm donor to conceive a baby seven years ago, and they hoped that one day their son would get to know some of his half siblings - an extended family of sorts for modern times.

So Daily searched a Web-based registry for other children fathered by the same donor and helped to create an online group to track them. Over the years, she watched the number of children in her son's group grow. And grow.

Today there are 150 children, all conceived with sperm from one donor, in this group of half siblings, and more are on the way. "It's wild when we see them all together — they all look alike," said Daily, 48, a social worker in the Washington area.

As more women choose to have babies on their own, and the number of children born through artificial insemination increases, outsize groups of donor siblings are starting to appear. While Daily's group is among the largest, many others comprising 50 or more half siblings are cropping up on websites and in chat groups, where sperm donors are tagged with unique identifying numbers.

Concern is growing among parents, donors and medical experts about potential negative consequences, including the possibility that genes for rare diseases could be spread more widely through the population. Some experts note the increased odds of accidental incest between half sisters and half brothers, who often live close to one another.

So, why haven't there been limits put on how many times sperm can be used? And what does this mean for future generations? It's not cool for siblings to date outside of a VC Andrews novel. Who do we blame for this? The doctors who used the same sperm over and over again? The man who sold his seed without thinking about all of the kids he'd make — after all, every time a man ejaculates, he releases hundreds of million potential baby makers.

So, when are we going to start being more like the French?

Although other countries, including Britain, France and Sweden, limit how many children a sperm donor can father, there is no such limit in the United States. There are only guidelines issued by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, a professional group that recommends restricting conceptions by individual donors to 25 births per population of 800,000.

This is just nasty.

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