A father has donated his sperm to help his son and daughter-in-law have … his grandchild. Modern thinking, or just creating problems down the road?
After three years of trying unsuccessfully to become pregnant, a couple in the Netherlands found out they couldn't conceive because the husband produced no sperm. The solution to this fertility problem? Rather than visit a sperm bank, the husband made the unconventional choice to ask his own father to serve as sperm donor. A fertility clinic has already agreed to help the couple and father undergo the artificial insemination process.
The vast majority of couples facing similar fertility issues use sperm from anonymous donors, so why did this pair of hopeful parents look for a donation so close to home? According to MSNBC, the couple is adamant their child share genes with the husband's side of the family. Because the husband has no brothers, however, they decided to go the next best source—the man who will also be their child's grandfather.
All in the Family
Donations of sperm and eggs between family members, or female family members acting as surrogate carriers, are not illegal, and do happen. As researchers and medical ethicists point out, such arrangements can have certain advantages over using donations from strangers. But they can bring their own set of complications, too, including potential confusion regarding who the child's parent is.
"One concern in these situations is that the person who donates will want to act as a parent to the child. In the case of the couple from the Netherlands, the 'grandfather' may find it hard to resist inserting himself into the family," says Arthur Caplan, bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania (via MSNBC). "I'm not saying it can't be done, I'm just saying it's ethically high-risk," he adds.
Would you feel more comfortable having such a close connection with your sperm or egg donor? Or is anonymous the way to go? Researchers in the Netherlands are now following the family to find out what long-term effects, if any, their donor decision will have.