Sperm bank reported to police

Board of health wants a sperm bank to be fined after nine of the 43 children conceived using one donor’s sperm inherited a genetic disease

A sperm bank has been reported to the police by the board of health after it acted too slowly to stop the use of sperm from a donor suspected of carrying the genetic disease known as NF1.

“As a result of the information gathered about Nordic Cryobank, the authority has decided to report the company to the police and recommend that the company be fined," a Sundhedssyrelsen official said, according to public broadcaster DR. "The report has been sent to Copenhagen Police.”

The health minister, Astrid Krag (Socialistisk Folkeparti), said an unfortunate consequence of the situation is that it has cast doubt on whether using donated sperm is safe.

“If the relevant business is found guilty it will have an enormous impact on its ability to run its business and remain trustworthy,” Krag told DR.

Questions about Nordic Cryobank arose after a long-term investigation by the DR news programme ’21 Søndag’. The programme accused the sperm bank of negligence for not withdrawing sperm from a particular donor after the first report that a child conceived using his sperm had developed NF1.

DR claimed that nine of the 43 children conceived using the sperm have inherited the illness. Nordic Cryobank, however, says it is only aware of five, however.

Speaking with The Copenhagen Post after the initial allegations were made, Nordic Cryobank managing director Peter Bower said DR had not fully understood the science.

DR alleges that Nordic Cryobank broke rules by not automatically suspending use of donated sperm after the first report of a child developing an illness.

Bower argued, however, that the chances that the illness had been inherited from the donor were so small that it did not warrant worrying fertility clinics by suspending use of the sperm. Half of all cases of the illness develop spontaneously and are not inherited. The donor also exhibited no symptoms of the disease.

It was only after the report of a second child with NF1 from the same donor that the sperm was tested. The first test was negative and the second was positive. This is because the donor was a rare partial mutant and not all his cells carried the mutation. Nordic Cryobank suspended use of the sperm once it received this positive test result.

“There are two rare situations,” Bower told The Copenhagen Post. “Firstly that he hadn’t inherited it from his parents, which is the case in 50 percent of cases. Second he cannot be clinically classified as having NF1, as it only occurs in some of his cells.”

But while Bower defended Nordic Cryobank 's course of action, some fertility clinics have stopped using the sperm bank, while some members of parliament have begun to call for greater control of the industry.

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