Fertility specialist on protections for sperm recipients

[anvplayer video=”5056471″ station=”998131″]

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — When Dr. Morris Wortman’s patient, Mrs. Levey, was seeing him in his OB/GYN practice in the early 1980s there were significantly fewer protections in place for patients receiving sperm donations than there are now.

A lawsuit was filed against Wortman on Saturday alleges he knowingly used his own sperm to inseminate Mrs. Levey, while telling her the sample belonged to an anonymous medical student.

On Tuesday, News10NBC’s Emily Putnam spoke with Dr. Kevin Doody, a nationally renowned reproductive endocrinology and fertility specialist based out of Fort Worth, TX, about how the process of fertility treatment and sperm donation has changed since the time the Wortman allegations are said to have occurred in 1983.

"Back in the day, things were I guess much less talked about," said Doody, who has been practicing since 1989. "At that time it was not… what you didn’t have is the patient looking through a catalog of sperm donors and saying aha I want this one."

Dr. Doody outlined several key differences between sperm donation then and sperm donation now:

1.) It would now be impossible for someone to donate sperm anonymously.

"Donors were promised anonymity at the time,” said Doody. “We would’ve had far fewer sperm donors had there been a fear that their identity would be divulged."

2.) It’s much less common now for sperm to be donated locally. Most sperm donations are handled through national commercial banks.

"You don’t see the type of donation that’s done through coordination through the local fertility doctor or the local medical school,” said Doody. “You see the donor… the donation being done by one of the half dozen big commercial sperm banks."

3.) There are more FDA regulations now.

"As of 2005, the use of any human cellular or tissue product from one individual to another that’s not autologous themselves or to a sexually intimate partner that process is regulated by the FDA," said Doody.

For people who were conceived through a sperm donor before FDA regulations were changed in 2005 and now have questions about the identity of their donor, unfortunately, options are limited due to confidentiality.

However, many people end up doing what Dr. Wortman’s patients did to determine their biological history – 23 and Me, Ancestry.com, or other at-home testing kits to get more information.