He seemed like the perfect sperm donor: a well-educated cytogeneticist with a robust genetic makeup, with no signs of even minor health issues. But seven Canadian families say the man known as Donor 3116 wasn't quite what he seemed, and they're now suing the Ontario sperm bank they say misled them after children conceived using his sperm were born with a degenerative nerve disorder. Per the CBC, the separate complaints by the families, who are spread across five provinces, allege that Outreach Health Services assured them all of its donors undergo a rigorous screening process, including genetic testing. But, they say, despite Donor 3116's impressive resume and apparent clean bill of health, it turns out he's actually just a lab tech with zero advanced degrees, and who suffers from Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a genetic condition they say is obvious in his photos.
Five children from the seven families in the complaint who'd used Donor 3116 have since tested positive for the disorder, which mainly affects nerves in the arms and legs; symptoms usually show up in the teenage years or early adulthood and can become so severe that patients can no longer walk. "This is about people being sold something that is not what they were promised in a way that is so horrifying," the lawyer representing the families tells the Canadian Press. The affected families—who say others may also have used 3116 as a donor, and that Outreach kept distributing his sperm even after it was told about his iffy background and genetic history—are each seeking about $3 million in damages. Outreach was also sued in 2016 for not revealing a different sperm donor's schizophrenia and criminal history; one of the claims was dismissed in 2017, but at least one is pending. (Read more sperm donors stories.)