After complications with her first pregnancy, a woman, Arianna Huhn, signed up for a clinical trial that required her to submit DNA samples from herself and her parents. This later unearthed a case of fertility fraud, according to a report by US media outlet The Verge.
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In the 1970s Huhn’s parents opted for artificial insemination, which involved mixing their father’s sperm with more. The doctor had recommended keeping the artificial insemination secret from the child. In hindsight, this is hardly surprising, because Arianna Huhn found out that it was the doctor’s sperm that fertilized her mother’s egg.
DNA tests for home use
When her parents told her during the study that her father was not her biological father, Huhn began researching her genetic background. She took a DNA test via a test kit at AncestryDNA and meticulously examined all matches of the Ancestry results. She also used Facebook to search the friends list of her new contacts. Her search also led her to the man who had impregnated her mother. However, he stated on the phone that he had performed a vasectomy. Yet again, AncestryDNA found a match – her genetic aunt, the doctor’s sister.
After being confronted again, he apologized for not having previously admitted the fraud. He used to donate his own sperm to his colleague for his patients, while he used his colleague’s sperm for his own patients. However, her mother was the only one on whom he had used his own sperm. In addition, he and his mother knew each other outside of the doctor-patient relationship, which is probably why Huhn did not take any legal action. In order to come to terms with what she had experienced, she also joined the Donor Deceived Facebook group, which now has 113 members – a group in which victims of fertility fraud exchange ideas.
Legal situation in the USA unclear
In the United States, there is no federal law against fertility fraud — states often don’t legislate, according to The Verge. There is a lack of regulation of reproductive medicine. As more and more people turn to specialized genealogy services, fertility scams continue to be discovered. This raises the question of whether donor anonymity can exist at all in times of mass DNA test kits from 23andMe and AncestryDNA for home use.
Noticeably frequent fertility fraud by doctors
In 2020, the New York Post reported on a doctor who inseminated patients with his sperm for 40 years. In 2019 there was a report about a Dutch doctor who is said to have fathered an estimated 200 children in this way. In Germany, a donor is not allowed to father more than 15 children, in Great Britain it is up to 10 families. In a fertility clinic in Los Angeles (California) there was even a case of mistaken embryos.
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