A woman has taken a sperm bank to court after giving birth to a child with dwarfism, despite choosing a 6ft tall donor on its website.
The woman, a successful writer in her 40s whose identity has not been disclosed, reportedly chose a father for her baby from pictures of men on the site.
After paying for the man’s sperm, the woman underwent successful IVF treatment at a private Moscow clinic, believing this to be her last chance to have a child because of her age.
The anonymous woman was attracted to the donor because of his fair-haired looks, higher education, and height of more than 6ft, according to local reports in Russia.
She expected her child to inherit those traits, but in the later stages of pregnancy doctors detected the unborn baby boy most likely had achondroplasia – an incurable condition affecting how some of the bones develop.
Approximately one in 25,000 people are born with achondroplasia. The condition mainly affects the growth of the upper arms and thighs, with other signs including a prominent forehead, a sunken nose, crowded teeth and a protruding jaw.
The child’s condition was only confirmed after birth, with doctors telling the woman her son – now two – would grow to a maximum adult height of 4ft and his facial features would not develop ‘correctly’.
The woman said she wanted to warn other sperm bank customers of the risk, with Koptevsky District Court ultimately ordering the blocking of the website of Danish sperm bank Cryos in Russia, ruling that using its services would flout Russian laws.
Health watchdog Roszdravnadzor said it was not satisfied with case details handed over by the sperm bank – including a ‘medical genetic examination’ of the donor, analysis of his ‘mental and physical condition’, and a family tree.
The watchdog stated:
It is not possible to confirm the reliability of the information received.
The sperm bank said it screens donors for 46 of the most common recessive genetic diseases, telling Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets all the sperm it supplied was of excellent quality, adding they ‘are not responsible for the mistakes of the clinics’ carrying out IVF treatment. ‘We only know that our bio-material is of high quality,’ they continued.
However, medical sources have said it’s impossible to say unequivocally the dwarfism condition arose from the sperm donor, as not all cases of achondroplasia are hereditary.
According to the NHS, ‘anybody can be born with achondroplasia’ as it is a ‘random event’, with the condition caused by a genetic mutation that can occur when the egg or sperm is being formed.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).