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Mother sues sperm bank after donor lies about medical history

16 Sep 2019 / international Print

Mother sues sperm bank over donor profile lies

A US single mother has settled a claim against a sperm bank for $250,000 after she discovered that her children’s father had lied about his background.

Danielle Rizzo conceived two children through sperm donation with her then lesbian partner. Both of her children, now aged six and seven, have severe autistic difficulties.


Rizzo discovered during the course of her research on their developmental delays that her children’s father ‘Donor H898’ had fathered several children, all of whom were on the autism spectrum.


The two boys are part of an autism cluster, in the US, Canada and Europe, involving at least a dozen children, all conceived with sperm from the same donor.

Many of the children also have secondary diagnoses of ADHD, dyslexia, mood disorders, epilepsy, and other developmental and learning disabilities, the Washington Post reports.

Genetic experts are now studying the cluster and have gathered DNA samples from the families involved.

The man’s sperm is still being sold by at least four companies, the newspaper reports.


The mother discovered that the medical history posted by the donor, when she bought his sperm, was falsified.

His profile claimed that he had a clean bill of health, was blond and blue-eyed, and over six foot tall. He claimed to have a Masters’ degree. The profile also declared that no mental-health issues existed.

Investigations showed that the donor had no college degrees, had been diagnosed with ADHD, and was schooled in an institution for those with learning and emotional difficulties.

Rizzo and her partner bought two vials of sperm for $500. Both boys showed developmental delays in early toddlerhood, refusing to make eye contact or interact with other children or adults.


Their mother turned to healthcare regulators in New York and California, where the sperm banks were based, and was told that such cases were not their responsibility.

The US Food and Drug Administration oversight of sperm banks is limited to screening for sexually-transmitted diseases.

Rizzo then took a legal action in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois which the sperm bank settled for $250,000.


She said that her lesbian relationship had broken down with the strain of caring for the two boys’ special needs. She had to give up her job, and lost her family home. She now lives in her parents’ basement.

Rizzo’s lawyers told the court that the donor had fathered at least 12 children, all of whom had autism or symptoms associated with autism.

Other mothers corroborated the story in documents filed in court.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland