During his lifetime he always denied the accusation, refusing to undergo DNA testing, claiming a right to privacy. But facts are facts. There is a "strong probability" that at least 47 people conceived through sperm donation in the 1980s at the Blijdorp Karbaat Medical Centre in Barendrecht, south of Rotterdam, are genetically linked to Jan Karbaat, Director of the Centre. At least 200 children are estimated to be involved.
In 2017, twenty-two people filed a complaint, demanding a DNA test. "Every child has the right to know where he comes from", stresses Merel-Lotte Heij, one of the plaintiffs. "I actually work in the health sector. Before bringing a child into the world, I want to know if that child is at risk of developing certain serious genetic diseases", he adds. At the time, his mother had opted for non-anonymous donation so that her child could contact his biological father at 18, "but once the request was made, the name was not disclosed". When the clinic closed its doors in 2009, "significant administrative irregularities were highlighted. It is believed that donor data and descriptions had been forged".
Jan Karbaat died in April 2017, at the age of 89, just one month before the trial began. His widow and heirs, as well as the doctor's lawyer, fought "fiercely against any DNA tests", claiming that "the privacy of the deceased and his relatives must be respected". However, last Wednesday, the judge presiding over the case ruled that the interests of the children outweighed the interests of Jan Karbaat's family. "If he [used his own sperm], without declaring it at that time, his widow and other heirs cannot claim that the doctor's anonymity must be respected."
The plaintiffs' DNA will therefore be compared to Jan Karbaat's, which has been found on 27 personal items kept sealed since 2007, including his toothbrush.
Dutch law prohibits the same donor from fathering more than 25 children.
For further reading:
Guardian, Daniel Boffey (14/02/2019) - DNA tests to establish if fertility doctor secretly fathered 200 children
Le Parisien (14/02/2019) - Pays-Bas : un médecin soupçonné d’être le père de 200 enfants nés après une insémination artificielle