Why mother fears kids will need background checks on love interests

The dad with 1000 kids: Why this ‘broken’ mother-of-five fears her children will be forced to run background checks on every potential love interest – or face an unthinkable reality – as an entire state is put on alert

  • Shannon Ashton used IVF clinic to conceive her children 
  • She since found out their father gave hundreds of donations 
  • READ MORE: How small talk between parents led to sibling discovery

An Australian mum who has five children from the same sperm donor father used has discovered that he could have fathered as many as 1,000 children. 

Shannon Ashton used Freedom of Information to obtain copies of Queensland Fertility Group’s sperm freezing data after by chance coming across several donor siblings of her own children in her local community.

She found her children’s biological father had donated 239 times in four years.

The documents show each sample is able to be split into four separate ampoules, with each of those able to create more than one embryo each. 

Ms Ashton’s case is one of a number that has rocked Queensland in recent months and prompted Health Minister Shannon Fentiman to order an inquiry into the IVF industry across the entire state to clamp down on ‘cowboy’ operators. 

In another case, Queensland same-sex couple Anastasia and Lexie Gunn are suing the same IVF clinic giant, alleging they used the wrong sperm to conceive two of their sons. 

Shannon Ashton (pictured) has five children she conceived using sperm donation from a Queensland fertility clinic where she has since discovered a man made hundreds of donations

Queensland Health Minister Shannon Fentiman (pictured) has ordered an inquiry into the state’s IVF industry to target ‘cowboy’ operators

The father of Ms Ashton’s children is ‘Donor 188’, a blue-eyed ‘surfie’ type whom she says contributed to her children’s sporting talent. 

‘I always knew he was a popular donor and my own investigations had shown he probably had dozens of kids, but these numbers have broken me,’ Ms Ashton told The Courier Mail this week.

‘The document shows his sample made four ampoules on one day but in some cases a donation could be split as many as 16 times. Just keeping it at the lower possibility my children’s donor could have 956 kids or even more than 1,000 children.’

‘I would never have used him if I had any clue of what was going on. It is no fault of the donor, but I did trust the process.’

Ms Ashton said while she is immensely grateful she has the opportunity to be a parent, she is now concerned her children will have to do background checks on every potential romantic partner to ensure they are not biologically related.

She said she was constantly ‘sick to her stomach with worry’ about ‘accidental incest’ given the fact that her children and other donor siblings would all be around the same age and in the same area.

She has previously revealed how, after meeting the parents of another child at daycare and becoming friends, learning that they too had used the same donor.

Ms Ashton’s children are now 19, 17, 13, nine and six. 

Ms Ashton described Donor 188 as the ‘typical Aussie, sporty bloke’. His profile said he had blonde hair, blue eyes, loved surfing and was interested in science and math (pictured, donor 188’s vial)

Ms Fentiman has said she will work with Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath to introduce legislation that would regulate the industry and bring the state in line with NSW, Victoria, WA, SA, and Northern Territory frameworks.

In NSW, a sperm donor is limited to five women, in Victoria, 10 women, and in Western Australia to five families – but Queensland does not currently have laws that guide the fertility industry so there are no legal donor caps in place. 

IVF businesses in the state often have their own ethical guidelines such as following the Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee’s advice that ‘a maximum of ten donor families per sperm donor’ is acceptable. 

Ms Fentiman has also ordered the Office of the Health Ombudsman to launch an urgent investigation into fertility clinics in the state.

Ms Ashton and two other mums who have lodged complaints with the Queensland Health Ombudsman met with Ms Fentiman this week.

Ms Fentiman said she was ‘appalled’ at some of the allegations levelled at IVF providers and has given the ombudsman instructions to urgently investigate the fertility industry in the state. 

Queensland Fertility Group managing director Melanie Sibson told the newspaper she was aware of Ms Ashton’s ombudsman complaint and that ‘today’s QFG donor conception guidelines only allow a 10-family limit’. 

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Queensland Fertility Group and Ms Ashton for comment.

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