Boy Identifies Formerly Anonymous Sperm Donor Father

A 15-year old boy conceived through anonymous sperm donation has tracked down his biological father using several morsels of information supplied by his mother, information about his own Y chromosome supplied by a dna test he ordered online, and a geneological database. The details are supplied by New Scientist:

The boy paid FamilyTreeDNA.com $289 for the service. His genetic father had never supplied his DNA to the site, but all that was needed was for someone in the same paternal line to be on file. After nine months of waiting and having agreed to have his contact details available to other clients, the boy was contacted by two men with Y chromosomes closely matching his own. The two did not know each other, but the similarity between their Y chromosomes suggested there was a 50 per cent chance that all three had the same father, grandfather or great-grandfather.

Importantly, the men both had the same last name, albeit with different spellings. This was the vital clue the boy needed to start his search in earnest. Though his donor had been anonymous, his mother had been told the man’s date and place of birth and his college degree. Using another online service, Omnitrace.com, he purchased the names of everyone that had been born in the same place on the same day. Only one man had the surname he was looking for, and within 10 days he had made contact.

The privacy implications for other anonymous sperm donors is significant. Equally astonishing is the implication of this 15 year old boy: young persons of the Net-Generation, so called N-geners, are superpower users of technology. The ability of this kid to piece together a mishmash of technologies and services on the web for his purposes is truly remarkable.

Growing_up_digitalDon Tapscott. Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998.
Genetic_secretsMark Rothstein. Genetic Secrets : Protecting Privacy and Confidentiality in the Genetic Era. Yale UP 1999.

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