48 adults find out they are illegitimate children of a fertility doctor - Evewoman
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48 adults find out they are illegitimate children of a fertility doctor

Dr Donald Cline

A fertility doctor who secretly used his own sperm to impregnate women has now been confirmed as the father of at least 48 children.

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Dr Donald Cline told patients seeking artificial insemination he would source “fresh sperm” from medical students.

But he actually used his own in procedures on dozens of unwitting women in Indiana, US, in the 1970s and 1980s.

The 80-year-old’s appalling betrayal of trust only emerged when Jacoba Ballard, who knew from an early age that she was conceived using a sperm donor, began searching for any half-siblings and turned to commercial DNA testing.

She only expected to find a few and after her hunt led to Cline admitting what he had done, she said: “I feel like our mothers were violated.”

Matthew White and his mother Liz White

Liz White, 66, who had her son Matt after Cline inseminated her over five months in 1981, said: “I feel like I was raped 15 times.” She remembered how his office was filled with pictures of babies he had helped conceive – a detail she said did not strike her at the time but she now finds deeply unsettling.

Cline, who retired in 2009, got a one-year suspended sentence in 2017 after admitting two counts of obstructing justice. No other charges were filed as Indiana law does not explicitly ban fertility doctors using their own sperm.

Jacoba, 38, began searching for half-siblings sharing her donor in 2014. Using an online forum for adoptees and donor-conceived people, she found a woman linked to Cline. And as soon as she saw her photo, she knew they were related.

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That woman connected her with another one whose mother also used Cline – and had a sister. The four of them decided to take DNA tests with 23andMe, which confirmed they were related – and also revealed four further half-siblings were on the database.

The pensioner hasn't committed a crime as Indiana law doesn't specifically prohibit fertility doctors from using their own sperm

Cline had told his patients he used each donor for only three successful pregnancies. But they now had proof one was used in at least eight.

The birth years also ranged from 1979 to 1986 – and medical students, which he said he used, only do three-year residencies. After further investigating and testing, the number of matches grew.

Heather Woock, 33, was stunned when she was contacted through her ancestry.com account, set up when her husband got her a DNA test as a gift because of her interest in genealogy.

When a group of half-siblings, including Jacoba, finally met Cline, he confessed to using his own sperm.

Heather Woock

At the time of his trial, he apologised “for the pain my actions caused” – although he did not specify how many times he had done it. But court documents from Marion County in Indiana reveal he told Jacoba he had used his own sperm about 50 times.

Many of his children have formed close bonds and Jacoba said: “We feel cheated we didn’t get to know each other growing up.”

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And as DNA testing grows in popularity, the half-siblings expect their numbers to keep rising.

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Evewoman.co.ke

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