Fertility doctor conceived children with sperm intended for research

A Belgian fertility doctor used sperm donated for research purposes to conceive at least two children without the donor's knowledge, De Standaard reports on Friday.

The doctor, who died in 2016, worked at the Brussels university VUB and the UZ Brussel hospital. He used the sperm of a student who donated it for a scientific study on male fertility. The man did not give permission for it to be used for other purposes.

The abuse was discovered after a 45-year-old Belgian examined his biological origins, after learning that his parents had used donor insemination due to fertility problems. He found a half-brother and his biological father. According to the non-profit organisation Donorkinderen, which defends the rights of donor-conceived children, the donor is still in shock after learning the news, as he finds it “incredibly difficult to accept that people were conceived with his sperm against his will and without his knowledge”.

The doctor was considered one of the pioneers of in vitro fertilisation and donor insemination in Belgium, but had previously been discredited for taking a sperm sample from the UZ Brussel to fertilise a woman’s eggs in his own private practice.

The VUB and UZ Brussel say they “regret the news” and stress that "very strict procedures" are used for sperm donation and that a contract is signed for each donation.

Donorkinderen demands a large-scale investigation with the cooperation of the health and justice ministers, VUB, UZ Brussel, the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products and the Belgian Order of Physicians. “This is possibly just the tip of the iceberg,” a spokesperson said.


Analysis of a sample of sperm as part of an in-vitro fertilisation process © PHOTO LUCA SOLA / AFP

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