A sperm donor passed on a potentially deadly genetic heart condition to nine of his 24 children, including one who died at age 2 from heart failure, according to a medical journal report.
Two children, both now teenagers, have developed symptoms and are at risk for sudden cardiac death, the report says. It's the second documented instance of a genetic condition being inherited through sperm donation.
The latest case highlights the importance of thoroughly screening sperm donors, according to the report and an editorial published with it in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association. Yeah, that's the ticket!
The San Francisco sperm bank involved now gives all donors electrocardiogram tests to weed out men with genetic heart problems; the study authors recommend that other sperm banks follow suit.
Voluntary sperm bank guidelines say donors should be required to provide a complete medical history to rule out those with infectious diseases or a family history of inherited diseases.
Many also do testing but for genetic diseases that are less common than the heart problem, according to co-author Dr. Barry Maron of the Minneapolis Heart Institute, a leading authority on the condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
Neither the sperm bank nor the donor were identified. Of course not. We wouldn't want to upset the anonymity apple cart, would we?
The donor, now 42, had no symptoms of genetic heart disease and no obvious family history when he donated sperm in the early 1990s. His own condition wasn't diagnosed until after a child born through sperm donation was diagnosed.
Well - seems he was a lot luckier than those of who "donate" our fully formed offspring for adoption. (Note of course sperm "donors" SELL their wares and get better treatment than we do.) We don't get notified and would never know of any diseases that might threaten the lives of any subsequent kids we have because we DISAPPEAR after relinquishment into the void, the great abyss of erasures...
The children are now ages 7 to 16. Nine, including one born to the donor's own wife, tested positive for the heart mutation. One born through sperm donation died; two others have developed symptoms, with one getting a defibrillator. The remaining children are at increased risk for problems, which often don't show up until adolescence, Maron said.
The only other documented case of a disease inherited through sperm donation involved a rare blood disease.