A man says he has been left devastated after a leading fertility clinic used his sperm against his wishes to father nine children with same-sex couples and single women.
Neil Gaskell told Care Fertility in Manchester – which describes itself as ‘one of the world’s leading providers’ of IVF – that he wanted his sperm to go only to heterosexual couples when he agreed to become a donor in 2010.
But clinic officials were forced to confess that ‘mistakes had been made’ when an official audit by the fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), revealed five children had been born to three same-sex couples, including a set of twins, using Mr Gaskell’s sperm.
The 49-year-old was also told that he was the biological father to 13 children in total – including a further four born to three single women and four more to heterosexual couples.
Neil Gaskell (pictured with paperwork from his four-year legal battle) told Care Fertility in Manchester he wanted his sperm to go only to heterosexual couples when he agreed to become a donor in 2010
Mr Gaskell, who accepts his views will be divisive, was adamant any resulting children from his sperm should have the advantage of a father figure.
An official donor consent form made clear the restrictions he wished to place on his donation.
As a result of the blunders, the clinic – which has more than 20 units across the country – has now paid Mr Gaskell a five-figure sum following a four-year legal battle which was settled out of court.
In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Mr Gaskell told how:The clinic used his sperm to create 11 families when the HFEA’s rules only permit a maximum of ten from a single donor; He was told by the clinic he had ‘Superman-strength sperm’ and was asked to become a donor to help others; He was left ‘shocked and numb’ to discover he had fathered 13 children via the clinic when he claims he was told it was more likely to be ‘two or three’; Clinic staff initially told him there were 12 children but a further child came to light after a request for information to the HFEA; His sperm had also been used to help single women conceive despite his belief that only ‘families’ with a father figure would benefit; A change in the law in 2005 means all the children have the right to receive information about their biological fathers – which means they can get in touch with Mr Gaskell when they turn 18; The HFEA has confirmed the clinic should never have accepted Mr Gaskell as a donor because his views were contrary to the Equality Act, which states that donors and clinics cannot ‘discriminate against protected groups’.
Today, Mr Gaskell, from Manchester, is furious at what he describes as a ‘huge betrayal’. ‘I accept that some people will find this uncomfortable and that people might think I’m homophobic, or against the idea of single mothers,’ he told The Mail on Sunday.
‘But that couldn’t be further from the truth. This wasn’t about discriminating against same-sex couples, it wasn’t for religious reasons and I don’t accept that it’s bigotry. I think about these families – these children – every day, all the time.
‘But you can’t argue with biology. It takes a man and a woman to create a child, and it’s my view that if children are being born with my sperm they must have a mother and a father.
After they returned to the UK in 2010 they decided to try for more, and approached Care Fertility in