U. apologizes for possible sperm donor mix-up, another family comes forward with concerns
He said a number of concerns come naturally with using a sperm donor to conceive, but particularly so 20 to 25 years ago when practices weren't regulated or standardized. Clinics did, however, attempt to limit the number of babies resulting from one donor to 10.
"Our evidence is that Mr. Lippert had substantially less than 10 children result from his legitimate donation practices," Botkin said Thursday. But the risk was real for accidental and/or intentional switches at the U. clinic and others throughout the country.
He said anonymous donations were also more common then than they are today, limiting the amount of information available about some biological fathers.
Botkin said there is an advantage to knowing a person's genetic history, including the potential for an increased risk of disease and other medical conditions or illnesses.
"Anybody conceived through that process has that challenge," he said. "Children who resulted from donations of Tom Lippert aren't any worse off than other folks resulting from the same process."
She is disappointed with the mixup that resulted in her case.
"It's way too open-ended," she said. "We need to get some information on how something like this can happen."
McAffee said dealing with the unknown limits the amount of help a parent can give.
"Parents that have used the program owe it to themselves and their children to know what they're dealing with," she said. "I think when you've got a wild card in the mix, especially with problems of alcoholism and deviant social behavior that Mr. Lippert exhibits. These are things that are critical to know when you're raising children, especially when you are dealing with them as teenagers and young adults."
Criminal background checks were also not standard at the time and would have revealed a 1975 conspiracy conviction, court-ordered psychiatric treatment and jail time for Lippert, which would have precluded him from university employment today, the report states.
"No family should have to go through something like this, and we are deeply sorry for the stress and uncertainty this has caused their family," said Dr. Sean Mulvihill, associate vice president for clinical affairs and CEO of the U.'s medical group.
He said he spoke with the Branum family earlier this week and offered an apology.
"These events occurred almost 20 years ago, the lab is closed, the key principals are deceased, and the records from this era are incomplete," Mulvihill said, adding that the U. remains committed to working with families that come forward with concerns.
"We have accepted responsibility for this situation, and we will continue doing what we can to help provide those impacted with answers," he said.
Multiple calls to the Branum family were not returned Thursday.
Patients who used the labs in the late 1980s through 1998 and have questions or wish to seek free paternity testing are asked to call the U. at 801-587-5852.
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