At least 21 children of a doctor in the Netherlands who used his own sperm to treat fertility patients, have been discovered by an organisation that helps donor-conceived people to trace their biological parents.
This discovery has led the hospital that former gynaecologist Jos Beek had worked at – Alrijne hospital, Leiden, Netherlands – to set up a genetic database for all people who think they may have been affected. Hospital records from the period no longer exist, so a general appeal has been made for Beek's former patients and others affected to come forward. A special helpline has been set up to assist with this. Since 2004, donor-conceived people in the Netherlands have had a legal right to know the identity of their biological parents upon reaching the age of 16.
Peter Jue, a member of the board of directors at Alrijne hospital, commented: 'We immediately entered into a conversation with the children and parents who wanted to, to listen and to promise our cooperation. The way this doctor acted at the time is unacceptable. We are very shocked by this.'
Patients of Beek, who died in 2019, were expecting fertility treatment using sperm from anonymous donors. However, an investigation by the organisation Fiom found DNA matches between one of Beek's children, and 21 children born to mothers who were his patients between 1973 and 1986.
Beek is one of three Dutch gynaecologists recently found to have used their own sperm with patients they were treating. Both Jan Wildschut, who worked in Zwolle, and Jan Karbaat, from Rotterdam, fathered at least 40 children each between the 1970s and the 1990s.
This is not the first case of a genetic database being set up following gynaecologist's misuse of their own sperm. A similar case in Canada last year ruled that a proportion of the money paid out to affected individuals should be spent setting up a genetic database, to help find other people affected (see BioNews 1113).
The Alrijne hospital released an official statement saying: 'In the years that this doctor was working, there were hardly any regulations regarding fertility programmes. We would like to emphasise that the situation is now completely different. Our working method is regularly checked through audits.'