Embattled Australian fertility company accused of using wrong sperm to impregnate patients

A couple who had children through the Queensland Fertility Group (QFG) is claiming to have been impregnated with the wrong sperm — the latest in a series of controversies for the embattled company.

Anastasia and Lexie Gunn, a lesbian couple, underwent in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to have children, choosing to work with QFG between 2006 and 2014 to have three children. “I went to QFG and they had a big book with the donor profiles,” Anastasia said. “There’s an age bracket for the donor, their educational background … and the health history as well. Medical background was definitely of concern to me.”

They chose Donor 227, described as a healthy man between the ages of 25 and 30. After having their first child, they wanted to use the same donor for their next two children.

“We contacted QFG to check that we could use the same donor. We wanted them all to have the same biological father to tie them together so that then when they have children, their children are all tied together with biological history,” Anastasia said.

But the couple was surprised when their two younger children began having health problems. “Our middle child is diagnosed with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Our youngest son… has joint hypermobility syndrome also. He also has a diagnosis on the autism spectrum and ADHD.”

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

The couple began to think that Donor 227 had health problems that hadn’t been revealed to them, so they pursued DNA testing through an ancestry site, and then had them tested again through an accredited DNA testing lab used by the Family Law Court.

“I was completely perplexed. I could see that there was no match between our eldest boy and our younger two,” Anastasia said. “[QFG has] not provided any response to that legal DNA testing whatsoever. They have offered no rationale.”

QFG has still refused to admit they used the wrong sperm, so the Gunns are suing.

Other parents have recently come forward with their own QFG horror stories, which largely include stories of donors being allowed to donate hundreds of times, meaning they could have created over 1,000 children.

The fertility industry is largely unregulated. In Australia, the IVF industry is supposed to be overseen by the Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee (RTAC) — which said there is nothing it can do.

“RTAC has no power to govern the corporate nature of IVF,” embryologist and IVF patient advocate Lucy Lines said. “It looks after the scientific and the medical side of the clinics. And they’re very well-respected in that space, but when it comes to the corporate decisions of the businesses, they don’t have that power.”

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