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View Full Version : Girl sues sperm bank for genetic defects


Williamsser
Apr 11th, 2009, 06:00 PM
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20227032.400-sperm-bank-sued-under-product-liability-law.html

08 April 2009

SPERM should be subject to the same product liability laws as car brakes, according to a US judge who has given a teenager with severe learning disabilities the go-ahead to sue the sperm bank that provided her with a biological father.

Brittany Donovan, now 13 years old, was born with fragile X syndrome, a genetic disorder causing mental impairment and carried on the X chromosome. She is now suing the sperm bank, Idant Laboratories of New York, under a product liability law more commonly associated with manufacturing defects, such as faulty car brakes.

Donovan does not have to show that Idant was negligent, only that the sperm it provided was unsafe and caused injury. "It doesn't matter how much care was taken," says Daniel Thistle, the lawyer representing Donovan, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Genetic tests have revealed that she inherited the disorder from her biological father.

Donovan was conceived in Pennsylvania, where a "blood shield law" protects sellers of human bodily material from product liability suits. In New York state, however, sellers are not protected by any such law. On 31 March, federal judge Thomas O'Neill ruled that Donovan's case should be tried in New York.

Wendy Kramer of the Donor Sibling Registry, which helps people conceived through donor gametes find genetic relatives, suspects other sperm recipients may try to sue. "This could open the floodgates," she says.

Kart
Apr 11th, 2009, 06:14 PM
Seems fair enough.

miffedmax
Apr 11th, 2009, 06:17 PM
So does this mean you can sue your natural parents? What about an egg donor?

I'm not sure I agree, but my opinion doesn't count in this case.

Kart
Apr 11th, 2009, 06:21 PM
I think it means you can sue the institution, not the individual.

They have to have some form of liability IMHO otherwise any randon could open up a sperm bank with a few cups and a freezer. I mean - if you're paying for someone's sperm you have an entitlement to expect them to make some efforts to ensure it's free of genetic disease.

It's not as if fragile X syndrome is easy for guys to hide. I definitely wouldn't support suing the actual sperm donor as many people carry a lot of things they don't know about.

Ciarán
Apr 11th, 2009, 06:56 PM
:spit:

Scotso
Apr 11th, 2009, 07:39 PM
They have to have some form of liability IMHO otherwise any randon could open up a sperm bank with a few cups and a freezer. I mean - if you're paying for someone's sperm you have an entitlement to expect them to make some efforts to ensure it's free of genetic disease.

As with all medical procedures, there should be standards. But this is the part that bothers me:

Donovan does not have to show that Idant was negligent, only that the sperm it provided was unsafe and caused injury. "It doesn't matter how much care was taken," says Daniel Thistle, the lawyer representing Donovan, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

This opens the door for any unsatisfied "customer" to sue them for any reason. If the girl suffered a birth defect that was not genetic and in no way caused by the sperm bank, should she still be able to sue them because they provided "unsafe" sperm merely because the kid has medical problems?

If they take reasonable precautions they shouldn't be held responsible for genetic defects and such. It can happen to anyone whether they have a sperm donor father or not.

raffles
Apr 11th, 2009, 07:47 PM
As with all medical procedures, there should be standards. But this is the part that bothers me:



This opens the door for any unsatisfied "customer" to sue them for any reason. If the girl suffered a birth defect that was not genetic and in no way caused by the sperm bank, should she still be able to sue them because they provided "unsafe" sperm merely because the kid has medical problems?

If they take reasonable precautions they shouldn't be held responsible for genetic defects and such. It can happen to anyone whether they have a sperm donor father or not.

Do they have tests for every possible genetic defect? In addition some defects will only come into play if the mother is also a carried of the defective gene, so wouldn't she have to be tested as well?

starin
Apr 11th, 2009, 08:00 PM
I guess it makes sense since this is where we are headed with genetics.
Maybe in the future a parent will be able to sue because their child is born ugly when they clearly ordered a beautiful one. It'll be like Gattaca.

raffles
Apr 11th, 2009, 08:17 PM
I guess it makes sense since this is where we are headed with genetics.
Maybe in the future a parent will be able to sue because their child is born ugly when they clearly ordered a beautiful one. It'll be like Gattaca.

I plan to genetically engineering myself a super athletic beautiful child so she can win Wimbledon and make lots of money on endorsements. They'll be hell to pay if the sperm back provide me with a short, ugly kid. I'll have to sue them for loss of income. :lol:

Kart
Apr 11th, 2009, 10:33 PM
This opens the door for any unsatisfied "customer" to sue them for any reason. If the girl suffered a birth defect that was not genetic and in no way caused by the sperm bank, should she still be able to sue them because they provided "unsafe" sperm merely because the kid has medical problems?

If they take reasonable precautions they shouldn't be held responsible for genetic defects and such. It can happen to anyone whether they have a sperm donor father or not.
Agreed. That statement bothers me as well.

I think it's unlikely that they'll have much success with anything other than genetic defects that were known about though.

It would be interesting to know what kind of safeguards they have in place to prevent this kind of thing occurring - I mean asking volunteering sperm donors to fill in a questionnaire is quite different from having them provide some medical evidence (like a letter from their doctor) that they're not known to be carrying anything.

If you think that we allow people to donate blood on the basis of questionnaire alone but then screen the blood for known disease, I don't think it would be unreasonable to expect the same level of investigation here for a service you're paying for.

Scotso
Apr 12th, 2009, 02:23 AM
They look at their complete medical history, they screen them for every disease possible, and then run all the tests on the person again 6 months later to make sure he doesn't have HIV or something else they missed the first time (during which time the sperm is stored).

Rtael
Apr 12th, 2009, 03:07 AM
I think this is dumb.

Xanadu11
Apr 12th, 2009, 06:39 AM
This is ridiculous because first of all it is equating human matter to a 'product'. Human beings are complex, they can't be compared to a normal 'product' that a company produces, even if the company did all the checks or did not excerise care, there could still a multitude of ways in which someone could have genetic defects.


And what of instances where someone is born with genetic defects from natural parents? Whose the 'company 'people sue then? God? The Vatican?

rockstar
Apr 12th, 2009, 08:53 AM
she does realise that it wouldnt be her if better/different sperm was used right? :unsure:

Polikarpov
Apr 12th, 2009, 09:21 AM
Tough luck. I mean it's one of the risks she had to take account before going on with the procedure. I think she should just accept her child the way he is, and take good care of him.

vadin124
Apr 12th, 2009, 04:38 PM
she does realise that it wouldnt be her if better/different sperm was used right? :unsure:

she owes this particular "faulty" sperm her life :worship:

Destiny
Apr 12th, 2009, 04:52 PM
omdaiz what is this :o