Rebecca Blackwell was devastated to find out that her sperm donor had a genetic illness that caused her son to be diagnosed with a rare and possibly fatal aortic heart defect.
Rebecca, 59, and her son Tyler Blackwell, 18, of Maryland tried to track down their sperm donor, ‘John,’ three years ago, but to no avail. That’s when John’s sister found the Blackwells via Ancestry.com after finding a letter they wrote to her brother, who had passed away from his genetic disorder that ruptured his aorta. She had no idea he was a sperm donor who fathered 24 other children. So sad.
John’s sister said John, two brothers and their mother all had an “unnamed, never before seen genetic mutation’ disorder.” John also has a family condition of the connective tissue disorder Marfan’s Syndrome. “Tyler had a time bomb ticking in his chest,” Rebecca explains to the Daily Mail. “‘It didn’t occur to anyone to tell us.”
Tyler has since had surgery on the defect in June, but now questions are being raised as to why Rebecca and her son were ill-informed about the details of their sperm donor’s health.
Wendy Kramer of the Donor Sibling Registry, who conceived her own child through sperm donation, says the fertility industry in the United States is one of the most unregulated in the developed world.
“There are no rules or regulations about donor identification, testing donors, monitoring numbers of children or medical records,” she explains. “No one is watching. There are no laws. They don’t keep track.” But laws are reportedly changing!
Starting today, July 22, Washington will be the first state to give donor-conceived children the right to crucial health information about their biological parents when they turn 18. Previously they weren’t entitled to any information or medical records.
“Tyler is fine now,” says Rebecca. “He’s got an ugly scar on his chest, but he’s a girl magnet.” The single mother has since found out that one of Tyler’s half-siblings, who lives in Seattle, has the same disorder. She worries about how many more of John’s children may have the condition.
“Sperm banks need to make an effort to collect updated medical information every couple of years,” said Ms Blackwell. “They made no effort until I came up with a problem. And I don’t think sperm donors should be anonymous.” We agree!
More on HollyBaby: