A gynecologist offering fertility treatment at Alrijne Hospital in Leiderdorp, Netherlands, has conceived at least 21 children using his own sperm, an investigation has found.
Last year, Fiom – an organization that tracks biological parents of children born through anonymous donors – approached the hospital. They had found a number of matches between Jos Beek – who worked at the hospital between 1973 and 1998 – and people using their service to find their biological parents.
Following an investigation by the hospital, including DNA testing, they now believe 21 children have been conceived using Beek's sperm while receiving treatment at his clinic.
“We are very shocked by this," Peter Jue of the board of directors said in a statement. "This of course has a significant impact on the parents and children involved. We immediately entered into a conversation with the children and parents who wanted to, to listen and to promise our cooperation. We recognize the situation they have found themselves in and want to do as much as possible to get information on the table. The way this doctor acted at the time is unacceptable.”
Fiom and the hospital suggest that, as far as they are aware, the parents involved in the treatment did not know they were receiving Beek's sperm. While the doctor was working, the hospital writes, hardly any regulations regarding fertility programs were in place.
"We would like to emphasize that the situation is now completely different. We use national protocols and work in a consistent and careful manner. Our working method is regularly checked through audits."
Both the hospital and Fiom are appealing for anyone who suspects they might be descendants of Jos Beek, who died in 2019, to come forward.
The scandal is not the first of its kind in the Netherlands. One prolific sperm donor known as "Louis" fathered over 200 children via sperm donations. Louis was specifically hoping that if he donated enough of his sperm, one of his children would track him down.
“If I had 10 children this way, there would be a very slim chance of success,” he told the Guardian in 2018. “But what if I had 100… or even more?”
In 2019, another DNA analysis found fertility doctor Jan Karbaat fathered at least 49 children via his work at a Rotterdam Clinic. It is believed that the total could be as high as 60, though he died in 2017 aged 89, making the case much more difficult to investigate.