UK Sperm Donor Fathered 15 Children Without Telling Mothers Of His Incurable Learning Disabilities : Report

UK Sperm Donor Fathered 15 Children Without Telling Mothers Of His Incurable Learning Disabilities: Report

James MacDougall has fathered 15 children.

A man who fathered 15 children after advertising his sperm on social media never told the mothers he has an inheritable condition that causes learning disabilities. According to the Independent, 37-year-old James MacDougall went ahead with the private donations despite knowing he suffered from Fragile X syndrome, an inheritable, incurable condition which can lead to low IQ and developmental delay. 

Mr MacDougall’s identity came out in a family court battle in the United Kingdom after he applied for parental responsibility and child arrangement orders for four of his children – even though he initially signed an agreement saying he didn’t want contact with some of his children. His application was heard at Derby Crown Court, where he was told he would not be able to contact three of his kids. 

A judge allowed him to be identified to protect other people planning to use private sperm donors. At the hearing, the judge said that the normal approach in family courts was to “anonymise” parents so the identity of children was protected. However, she added that there were “strong grounds” for naming Mr MacDougall to stop other women from using him as a sperm donor. 

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Presiding judge Ms Justice Lieven reportedly said that the 37-year-old placed an advert on a social media page for lesbian women seeking sperm donors – knowing he could not go through a clinic because of his condition. She said that Mr MacDougall showed “fundamental irresponsibility” by acting as a sperm donor, adding that he “took advantage” of the women’s desire to have children. Ms Lieven described Mr MacDougall as a “complex character” who suffered from learning difficulties and was on the autistic spectrum. 

As per the BBC, the court noted that Mr MacDougall met with his first child between October 2019 and March 2020, despite signing an agreement prior to donating sperm that he would not have contact. However, the judge said that the three-page document was in a highly legalistic language which would have been “difficult to read even for a lawyer”. 

Further, within the document, the 37-year-old admitted to having Fragile X syndrome, but there was no explanation of its meaning. Ms Lieven said that Mr MacDougall had told how he thought the condition was “not serious” and it was for “the mothers to do the research”. 

But she added, “Even if James MacDougall does not understand the true implications of Fragile X, he does know it prevents him from acting through a donor clinic.”

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The judge said that she had “no confidence” that he would not act as a sperm donor in the future and “no confidence” in him “fully explaining to any woman the true implications of his Fragile X syndrome”. “There is, therefore, a very specific benefit in him being named in the hope that women will look him up on the internet and see this judgment,” she added, as per the Independent

Ms Lieven also explained that Fragile X syndrome is an inheritable genetic condition which causes a “range of developmental problems including learning difficulties and cognitive impairment”. The judge said that in the past four years the man acted as a sperm donor, through private arrangements, in a “large number” of cases. He told her he is the father of 15 children.

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