Disability/Personal Injury

Canadians launch lawsuit against sperm bank


Several Canadian families have launched a lawsuit against the sperm bank Outreach Health Services in the United States for misleading them on the identity of a particular donor. The families allege that the bank did not conduct the proper background checks they should have done.

Disability lawyer James K Fireman at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP joins the Jill Bennett show on 980 CKNW to discuss the case further.

What They Discussed

  • How did this lawsuit begin and what led to it? Seven families across Canada had purchased from a particular donor in the United States based on characteristics they were told he possessed which turned out to be fabrications; the donor company also hid a genetic condition the donor had.
  • Is this condition something the sperm bank could have screened for medically? The sperm bank could have done more thorough genetic testing and failed to do so.
  • How did the families end up with this donor? Canadian laws make it very difficult for individuals to purchase sperm. If there is no known donor, sperm banks are the only option that has to be imported from sperm banks outside of Canada.
  • How many children were conceived from this donor? The final numbers are not known yet as litigation has just begun; there are others in Canada and the United States as well as other countries.
  • What are the families suing the sperm bank alleging? Who is ultimately responsible for the deception? The sperm bank was not conducting the background checks they claimed they were conducting; the way the donor identity was discovered was also very accessible for the public.
  • Have the children conceived from this donor tested positive for this condition? Of the seven Canadian families, five have tested positive with this condition.
  • What are the families looking for in terms of compensation? It is very difficult to put this situation into monetary terms, though there are financial aspects involved. The families have decided on damages amounting to $30 million.
  • By launching this lawsuit, is there hope there will be new laws implemented for accountability? The preferable outcome is to have new laws put into place for screenings for families in the future.
  • Is it possible there are more families who have used this donor? Once the sperm bank became aware of the situation a letter has been sent out to notify families who have children conceived by this donor.

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