In 1989, when our client, Dr. Bryce Cleary, was in medical school, he donated his sperm to Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). At the time, the university promised the sperm would be used for five conceptions on the East Coast and any leftover samples would be dedicated to research.
A Shocking Surprise
Years later, Dr. Cleary discovered that he is the biological father of at least 17 children – all of whom were born in Oregon or the Pacific Northwest. Made in part with Ancestry.com, this discovery disrupted the lives of Cleary and his custodial family, and affected the children born from Cleary’s donations.
Cleary’s concerns are multiple. He worries that his custodial children may have inadvertently come into contact with his donor children. Without knowing that they were related, the children could have befriended and even fallen in love with their half-siblings. Now that Cleary’s children (both custodial and strictly biological) have children of their own, their risk of fraternizing with an unknown cousin has increased dramatically. To make matters worse, there is no record of how many donor-children were conceived using Cleary’s samples, and his sperm was available at least as late as 2002.
Cleary himself works as a primary care physician and may have treated his biological children without realizing it. Some of his donor children even attended the same churches and schools as his custodial family members.
Preventing Similar Cases
Dr. Cleary wants to hold OHSU liable not only to account for his “extreme emotional and psychological distress,” but to make sure fertility clinics are held to a higher standard.
“I want this not to happen to people,” he said, “I want this to change. The idea that you can produce that many kids from one donor and to put them all in the same area – there’s got to be some sort of reform.”
Attorney Chris Best added:
“This is a civil case that at its heart concerns the ethics and the moralities involved in the creation and insemination of human life. [The fertility clinic] made promises to act responsibly and ethically, but ultimately broke those assurances with zero regards to the impact on real lives.”
As a result of OHSU’s activity, which likely turned a profit for the university, and its far-reaching implications, Best is asking for $5.25 million in damages on behalf of Cleary.
Check our blog for updates on the case.
If you need help with a similar matter, our attorneys at The Gatti Law Firm may be able to help.
Call us at (503) 543-1114 for a free consultation.