An Oregon man is suing a fertility clinic, alleging that they used his sperm to father at least 17 children without telling him, CBS News reports.
Dr. Bryce Cleary said that, back in 1989, he donated some of his sperm to a clinic at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. He claimed that he was told at the time that his sperm would be used to father no more than five children; that it would not be given to mothers in and around the Pacific Northwest; and that the children would not be able to find out who their biological father is.
That’s not the way it worked out.
After decades had passed, Cleary said he was contacted, out of the blue, in 2018 by two young women, now in their 20’s. The sisters said they learned via ancestry DNA testing that Cleary is their father, according to Willamette Week.
Cleary then used a commercial ancestry DNA testing service to dig around. Between his own research and the research of some of his biological children, they’ve collectively determined that, via the sperm clinic, he fathered at least 17 children. And that’s just the ones he knows about.
Moreover, they weren’t limited to outside the Pacific Northwest, as he’d been promised. Cleary later married, and he and his wife had four children of their own. Some of the children conceived via his donated sperm went to school and church not only with each other, but with Dr. and Mrs. Cleary’s children from their marriage, never knowing they were in the same rooms as their half-siblings.
Cleary said that the revelations were hard on his wife, who was concerned about him being able to be emotionally invested in the lives of 21 biological children. In the end, he said he couldn’t do it.
“At the time I had no idea the scope and thought, this will be fine,” said Cleary. “And then at some point I just thought, this is crazy. I can’t be emotionally invested with all these people.”
At a press conference this week to announce his lawsuit against the clinic, Cleary was joined by his daughter, Allyson Allee, who was conceived via his sperm. It was the first time they had ever met.
“As far as I can tell there aren’t many regulations, fertility clinics can do whatever they want to do. They’re messing with people’s lives,” he said.
Cleary is suing for $4.25 million for emotional anguish, and for economic damages not exceeding $1 million.