Cork woman searching for her biological father after sperm donor confusion

Cork woman searching for her biological father after sperm donor confusion
File photo.

"Your mother has a secret..." The words of an astrologer spoken to a West Cork woman led to her discovering that she was not her father's biological daughter.

After speaking to her mother, Anne Crossey discovered 14 years ago that she was conceived at a fertility clinic in South Africa, where her parents lived at the time.

"My mum told me I was donor conceived and she said 'since I'm telling you this I might as well tell you that I think the doctor was the donor'. She was told at the time that it was a young medical student," Anne told RTÉ Radio 1's Liveline.

"My mum went back to the clinic to see if she could get records in case she wanted to have another baby and the receptionist told her that the doctor had been the only donor at the clinic. He had treated hundreds of women.

I grew up an only child so my first reaction was to try and find the others, try and find my brothers and sisters.

Anne set out to find any half-siblings that she may have and after reaching out online she found a number of people around the world who also believed they were the children of Dr Tony Walker, who passed away in 1977.

"We all did DNA tests and we found out that all of the rest of them were from the doctor and I wasn't, so he was actually using some other donors as well."

Anne said she was more upset to find out she had not found her half-siblings than when she thought the doctor had been the donor.

"When I thought I had an answer it was okay but when that answer was taken away I was just left with a blank. You're really driven to find out where you come from. It was very upsetting, I think it was more upsetting than finding out in the first place."

Anne is continuing her search for family members, which included her and her mother taking DNA tests, and she believes one of two men she has found could be her biological father.

File photo of a DNA test
File photo of a DNA test

"[Dr Walker] used men whose wives had had healthy babies [as donors] at his clinic so I almost certainly have brothers and sisters," she said.

"I isolated everyone on the paternal side [shown in the DNA test results]. It's like working out a jigsaw puzzle."

"I think I may have found where I came from. I think it's one of two brothers. one of them died in 1980 but I've been in contact with his son."

Anne shared her story following the news that a Canadian fertility doctor had his license revoked this week. He used the wrong sperm, including his own, to inseminate patients over decades.

Bernard Norman Barwin, 80, was deemed incompetent by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, which described his behaviour as “beyond reprehensible” and said the damage he caused will span generations.


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