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Sperm bank warns against tracing anonymous donor via DNA test

Martha Henriques

Progress Educational Trust

04 February 2019

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[BioNews, London]

A woman in Portland, Oregon, has been issued a warning from the sperm bank she used to conceive her child, after finding and contacting her donor's family via a 23andMe DNA test. 

The woman, Danielle Teuscher, conceived her child Zoe with sperm from an anonymous donor, through the sperm bank Northwest Cryobank. Teuscher, Zoe and another family member completed a DNA test to find out more about her daughter's ancestry. Teuscher identified a close relative of the sperm donor online and sent them a message. 

'I said "I don't want to cross any boundaries. I just want to let you know that we are out here and we are open to contact if you are,"' Teuscher told CBS News.

The donor's relative replied saying, 'I'm sorry, I don't understand your message.' Teuscher then received a 'cease and desist' letter saying that Northwest Cryobank would seek $20,000 in damages if Teuscher tried to contact the donor's family again. Teuscher was also told that four further vials of sperm from the same donor would no longer be available to her. 

'It was important to me that all my children be conceived from the same sample. They'll have someone that they can relate to fully, and can relate to for health reasons,' Teuscher told Daily Mail Online. 'I didn't want to use a different donor [for future children] in case some day one donor wanted to meet their child and the others didn't for some reason.' 

Teuscher had agreed not to seek information about the donor's identity or whereabouts by signing an online form provided by the sperm bank. 'I mean, you just click the boxes,' said Teuscher. 'My daughter is an actual living, breathing, feeling human being who did not sign that contract.'

Northwest Cryobank told CBS News it does not prohibit DNA testing, but that 'concern arises when one uses DNA test results to contact a donor and/or his family'.

Teuscher said that she believed she was acting in her daughter's best interests. 'Then it just came back on me in just such a harsh way that made me feel like I did something terrible, like I was a criminal.' 

Wendy Kramer, director of the Donor Sibling Registry, said: 'It's a right for everybody to know the truth about their own DNA, their own background, their relatives and their medical histories.'

Northwest Cryobank said that unwanted contact could jeopardise a donor's home life. 'There is a human being on the other side of the gift who may have a partner, parents, job and children of his own.'

Sperm bank fines mother for accidentally finding her donor through 23AndMe
Daily Mail |  31 January 2019
Woman uses DNA test, finds sperm donor — and pays a "devastating" price
CBS News |  31 January 2019

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 04 February 2019   Date Updated: 04 February 2019
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