Monday, 4 May 2015

Are precautions re sperm donors sufficient?                           

Those of us who have children after using our own sperm and eggs are indeed blessed. I have great sympathy for those unfortunate couples who are childless especially when the only way they can have a child is either adopt one or go to a sperm clinic.             

 Alas, receiving the sperm from a sperm donor is risky since there is no concrete method of determining the truth of what a donor claims to be honest facts in the donor’s application to be a sperm donor.

 A good example of this failure is that of Christian Aggeles of Atlanta, Georgia. This man made 36 sperm donor donations to the Xytex sperm bank in that city and as such, he has fathered 36 children. Obviously, he was paid for his donations. Obviously, that was why he went to that clinic.

The sperm bank’s Application Form asks a number of questions pertaining the applicant’s physical health, his education and his employment. Aggeles answered the questions and apparently satisfactorily as far as the clinic was concerned.         

Unfortunately, he lied about his education. He stated on the Form that he had an IQ of 160, a bachelor's of science degree in neuroscience, a master's degree in artificial intelligence and was working on his PhD in neuroscience. He had dropped out of college and held no degree whatsoever.
That particular sperm bank didn’t ask on their Form two important questions—his mental health and whether or not he has a criminal record. They didn’t know that he is a schizophrenic; which is genetic and hereditary, thereby risking the mental potentials of all of if his offspring.  He was also charged with burglary and as such, was an ex-felon.  Aggeles went to jail for 8 months along with receiving a 10-year probation order. Aggeles also had his photos doctored and a large mole on his cheek had been removed.

It may have been difficult for the sperm bank to determine if he was schizophrenic but his criminal record could easily have been obtained. Having a criminal record doesn’t mean that one’s sperm is infected but many schizophrenics have criminal records.

Why didn’t this sperm bank investigate this man more thoroughly? If they had, I am convinced that they wouldn’t have accepted him as a sperm donor. I will show you what the sperm bank says about itself.

"Xytex is a global industry leader of reproductive services that complies with FDA and other agency auditing annually. Xytex takes the health of our donors and our recipients seriously. Before being approved, every potential donor is required to complete a comprehensive Medical History Questionnaire. The questionnaire includes questions regarding the health of the donor and the donor's blood relatives. Also included are questions for high risk behaviors, questions developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Any affirmative answer to the CDC questions automatically disqualifies a potential donor.”

What Xytex means with respect to ‘affirmative answer’ is directed to health questions such as having diabetes and many other diseases. This makes me wonder if they checked to see if he had any of those diseases. I am sure he has a medical history with a doctor as generally everyone does. How did they know if he suffered from Diabetes? They didn’t. How did they know if his parents suffered from schizophrenia?  They didn’t.

When Angela Collins and Elizabeth Hanson of Port Hope, Canada, decided to have a child together, they thought they did everything right. They chose the Xytex sperm bank, which seemed to have the best reputation of the three banks that Health Canada had approved.

They were told by Xytex that their donor was number 9623 No name was given to them as is the accepted policy of sperm banks. They were also shown photos of the donor as a child and as an adult that had been photo-shopped.

As fate would have it, thanks to an email erroneously sent to Collins and Hanson by the sperm bank a year later that identified Donor 9623 as James Christian Aggeles. It was then that they found out that much of what he claimed on the Form was false. This discovery was after Collins was already impregnated with Aggeles’ sperm.

The couple decided to sue Xytex. In their defence, the sperm bank didn’t deny that Aggeles was a schizophrenic. What they did say that is extremely important in a case like this one is that the couple was notified by Xytex before the impregnation, that the donor’s medical history that was submitted to the Xytex by him couldn’t be verified by Xytex.

The warning was sufficient enough to ensure that the couple was properly informed that Xytex couldn’t verify the accuracy of the donor’s medical history and for this reason; Xytex negated any potential violation of Xytex’s legal obligation to look out for the couple’s best interests.

The warning is an important legal document. Before signing this document the couple should have known the importance of what they were agreeing to. Once they signed the document and went ahead with the impregnation anyway, it was too late to later say that Xytex did them wrong.

In my respectful opinion, Xytex should have done more to delve into Aggeles’ medical history and his personal background. If they had, this problem for the couple and perhaps for the other 35 couples may never have occurred.

 Unfortunately, once you sign a waiver, your attempt at moving upstream without a paddle is pretty well hopeless. For this reason, the case was dismissed.

Now they can appeal that decision. The question that will before the appeal court would be whether or not the couple were given a valid waiver. For example, if you park your car in a parking lot and are handed a ticket that says on the back that the lot is not responsible for any loss to your vehicle and they foolishly give your car to someone else who drives it away, you can void the lot’s waiver and successfully win your case. The reason is obvious. A negligent act isn’t protected by a waiver.

For example, suppose a donor at Xytex is suffering from Aids and doesn’t disclose this fact honestly on the Donor Application Form. And suppose he infects a recipient with his Aids infected sperm. Do you really believe that a waiver will protect Xytex from a claim for damages? I think not.

In my respectful opinion, Xytex was negligent when they didn’t investigate this particular donor further after he filled out their Donor Application Form. I found his name in the Internet and for $49.95, I could do a background check on this man. This is something that the sperm bank should have done. As it turned out, they later did a check on him but the results weren’t passed onto the couple prior to the impregnation of the man’s sperm. 
Their Donor Application Form doesn’t have enough questions to be answered such as the schools or universities the applicants go to. They could have also checked to see if he had a criminal record of arrest and convictions etc. They could also have asked for the name of his doctor and got a release form signed by him so that the doctor would give Xytex a medical history on this donor.

Such an investigation in my opinion is absolutely necessary since sperm banks play an important role in the wellbeing of the recipients of donated sperm. 

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