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Mom Makes Drastic Move After Learning of Sperm Donor's Lies

Japanese mother gives up baby upon finding out donor fibbed about education, ethnicity
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 14, 2022 4:50 PM CST
Mom Makes Drastic Move After Learning of Sperm Donor's Lies
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/MARIIA MALYSHEVA)

(Newser) – A woman in Japan who thought the man she commissioned as a sperm donor was also from Japan, and educated at an elite university, was distressed to find out that wasn't the case—facts she found out when she was already pregnant and it was too late to have an abortion. Vice reports she had the baby, gave it up for adoption, and is now suing the donor for $2.9 million in a case that's shining a spotlight on Japan's illicit sperm-trade industry.

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Per the Tokyo Shimbun, the woman, said to be in her 30s, wanted to have a second child, but after finding out her husband had a genetic disease, she decided to seek out a sperm donor online. She found one—a man who claimed he was Japanese and a graduate of Kyoto University. The two had sex 10 times before she became pregnant in June 2019, after which she found out the truth: The man was actually Chinese, had attended a different college, and was married. She handed over the baby to a "child welfare facility" after it was born.

If you're wondering why the woman actually did the deed with her donor to become pregnant, it could have something to do with the fact that Japan has just a single commercial sperm bank, established earlier this year specifically to tamp down on the sperm donation "black market." Newsweek notes that it's believed about 10,000 children have been born thanks to sperm from an "involved third party." This DIY-style sperm trading typically involves acquiring sperm from unregistered facilities, or by seeking out donors on social media. Initial contact is followed either by an actual sexual interaction, as in the case of the woman now suing, or a sperm delivery to the woman's home, in which she or a helper injects herself—all of which is a risky endeavor.

"Not only is this a safety issue, but it can also be criminal and extremely dangerous," Dr. Hiroshi Okada, who heads up the Mirai Life Research Institute, Japan's official sperm bank, tells Japan Insider. "The semen that is handed over may carry infectious agents. We don't know if the sperm belongs to the donor or not. ... Such crazy things are happening." As for the woman in this particular case, her lawyer says she decided to sue her donor last month due to continued suffering from "intense mental distress," which includes an inability to sleep, per TBS News. (Read more sperm donors stories.)

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