A sperm donor in the US is taking legal action against a fertility clinic after learning through an ancestry website that he has fathered at least 17 children.
Dr Bryce Cleary is suing Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) for $5.25m (£4.2m) after accusing the hospital of breaking an agreement that his sperm would be used to produce no more than five offspring.
The 53-year-old, who also has three sons with his wife and an adopted daughter, told a news conference the sperm he donated 30 years ago may have been used to father even more children than those he is aware of.
He also accused the clinic of being “incredibly irresponsible” by breaching another promise that all of the children would be born to mothers outside Oregon.
At least two of his offspring have attended the same schools as the children he raised with his wife, according to the lawsuit.
Dr Cleary, from Corvallis, Oregon, told reporters that the children he conceived with his wife and through sperm donations had been put “at unacceptable risk”.
He said: “I wanted to help people struggling with infertility and I had faith that OHSU would act in a responsible manner and honour the promises.
“Without these promises, I would have never participated. Recently, I’ve become painfully aware that these promises were a lie.”
At the news conference, Dr Cleary sat next to 25-year-old Allysen Allee, one of the 17 people he fathered through his sperm donations.
Ms Allee said: “I’m expecting my third child right now of my own. The idea of my children having dozens and dozens of cousins that will be their ages and in the area is concerning for my children as well as myself.”
Dr Cleary donated his sperm when he was a first-year medical student at OHSU in 1989 after the hospital’s fertility clinic solicited him and other classmates, according to the lawsuit.
It states that, in March 2018, he began to learn that his sperm donations had successfully resulted in the births of some children after two young women – who born through the fertility clinic process – contacted him.
The young women told Dr Cleary they used Ancestry.com data as well as “specific and substantive information” given to them by the fertility clinic to identify more siblings and Dr Cleary himself, the lawsuit said.
Dr Cleary then sent his own DNA to Ancestry.com and discovered that he had at least 17 offspring born through his sperm donations.
In the lawsuit, Dr Cleary says he is “profoundly distressed” as he wades through the “moral, legal, ethical, and personal obligations” he now feels toward those 17 children.
A spokeswoman for OHSU said it treats any allegation of misconduct with “the gravity it deserve”.
She added: “In light of our patient privacy obligations and the confidentiality of protected health information, we cannot comment on this case.”