REACT: Should Anonymous Sperm Donors Undergo Genetic Testing?
On Fox and Friends this morning, we heard the story of a teen who underwent open heart surgery at age 17 to treat a genetic defect passed on to him by his donor father. The case highlights the fact that sperm or egg donors are not tested for genetic issues and don't have to disclose them.
Donors are required to undergo basic medical screenings for things like HIV and other diseases before donating.
Rebecca Blackwell, mother of Tyler Blackwell, explained that she was able to use a few small clues from the sperm bank about the donor's identity and track down his family. She then learned that the family had a history of aortic aneurysms, and her son's father had undergone heart surgery.
Luckily she was able to bring her son to be tested at age 16 and doctors found an aneurysm was already growing.
Tyler said he's not angry at his donor father because the man did not know he was a carrier of the genetic defect when he donated.
Anna Kooiman sat down with Dr. Keith Ablow and attorney Arthur Aidala to discuss the legal and medical issues at play. Aidala said he was amazed to learn how little regulation there is for sperm or egg donations, calling for a federal law instead of allowing each state to have their own system.
"If you look at a piece of pork, like the regulation that we go through before we're allowed to have this bite of bacon. How many people have to inspect it and look at it and what the pig eats and where'd it go. And you compare it to an egg donor? There's nothing!" he said.
Ablow called it "legal insanity," arguing that anonymous sperm or egg donations should not be allowed at all.
"It's wrong across the board because you're depriving kids of the knowledge of who their biological parents are. This isn't just a medical issue, this is a spiritual issue. You need to know your dad and your mom, be able to look them in the eyes," said Ablow.
Watch the interview with the Blackwells below, and the panel discussion above.