Donor-conceived Australian woman gets ‘devastating’ shock thanks to unregulated fertility industry

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Two women are on a search to find their biological father after finding out they were donor-conceived using a sperm donor and have over 30 known siblings.

The Guardian reported that Alexandra Eccles and Lyndal Bubke were both conceived at the Queensland Fertility Group, using “Donor 59.” Thanks to, Eccles has been able to track down 32 siblings, though she expects the number could rise to over 100. But under Australian law, she has no right to any information regarding her medical history, the identity of her father, or any information surrounding her conception. The potential consequences of the unregulated fertility industry, and Donor 59’s multiple children, are causing her stress and anxiety.

“The first one was extremely exciting,” she said of discovering her first half-sibling. “Now I just find it entirely devastating. I dread Ancestry popping up. I worked out that I have been to high school house parties with my half-brother. Anything could have happened and we wouldn’t have known. The more of us there are, it’s like it’s closing in on me.”

Bubke only discovered she had been donor-conceived after watching the Netflix documentary “Our Father,” and was inspired to take a DNA test. It was then that her parents came clean. “It was a pretty rough time,” she said, adding, “It’s probably one of the darker points in my life. The thought appearing in my head is that I’ll die never knowing the full picture and certainly not how many siblings I have and who they are.”

Today, Bubke said she is hesitant to have children of her own, and compares the fertility industry to Jurassic Park, with scientists doing whatever they’re capable of doing without ever questioning if they should. “I don’t think we’ve ever stopped and thought about the costs of having someone else’s biological child and not knowing that person,” she said.

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After complaining to Queensland’s Office of the Health Ombudsman, Bubke was able to find out that Donor 59 donated sperm 325 times in just five years. This could have devastating consequences; each sperm donation can be divided into four separate ampoules. As more than one embryo can be created from one ampoule, the number of children this donor may have fathered could be in the thousands, echoing the case of another donor — also from the Queensland Fertility Group.

Donor 188 is believed to have potentially fathered thousands of children, though he donated less than Donor 59 did. Donor 188 made 239 donations in four years, and as one of his children, Shannon Ashton, pointed out, that is a catastrophic amount. “The document shows that his sample made four ampoules on one day but in some cases a donation could be split as many as 16 times,” Ashton previously told the Courier-Mail. “But just keeping it at the lower possibility my children’s donor could have 956 kids or even more than 1000 children. I always knew he was a popular donor and my own investigations had shown he probably had dozens of kids, but these numbers have broken me. I feel so guilty. I would never have used him if I had any clue of what was going on. It is no fault of the donor, but I did trust the process.”

By the metrics outlined by Ashton, Donor 59 could have as many as 5,200 children.

According to Donor Conceived Australia (DCA), 60% of donor-conceived adults in Australia were never told about their conception. Currently, the Queensland government is considering giving donor-conceived children access to their medical records, even if it breaks past access of anonymity and confidentiality. And according to DCA representative Kate Drysdale, this is long overdue; as she explained, “This is vital for the physical and psychosocial wellbeing of donor-conceived people.”

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