AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

10 families sue Georgia sperm bank over mentally ill donor

At least 36 children in Canada, the U.S. and Britain were created with sperm from a donor who is schizophrenic, suffers from other mental disorders and has an arrest record in Cobb County, according to lawsuits filed by 10 families.

The Georgia sperm bank, the lawsuits allege, failed to verify information the donor provided about himself, according to a report in The (Toronto) Star. The donor was said to have bachelor and master's degrees and be working on a Ph.D. the newspaper reported that the donor turned himself into Athens-Clarke County police last week and said he had falsified paperwork for a sperm bank.

The AJC reported last year on one lawsuit, filed in Fulton County by a Canadian couple who said they understood the sperm bank, Athens-based Xytex Corp., thoroughly vetted donors. Xytex has Atlanta offices.

The Star reported this past spring that the Fulton court dismissed an early lawsuit because it was interpreted as being a claim for wrongful birth, not recognized under Georgia law.

The Xytex case has led some to call for federal regulation of sperm banks, saying that frozen sperm has become a major industry. Now, critics say, it is buyer beware. The FDA requires only that donors be screened for infectious diseases.

On its website, Xytex states that it looks for donors between the ages of 18 and 38 who live nearby or have access to its clinics and who have college degrees or are currently enrolled in college. Donors are paid.



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About the Author

Lois Norder is Senior Editor for Investigations in the newsroom at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.