Video: Should sperm donor regulations be tightened?

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    >>> back now at 7:44. imagine one man fathering at least 150 children? the sperm bank short of donors, some have relied on the same man over and over again. as nbc's george lewis now tells us, it's a practice that raises questions among critics, including a number of outraged parents.

    >> reporter: sharon from seattle had two children via artificial insemination from the same sperm donor . it wasn't quite that random, but in a documentary airing can 27th of this month on the style network , sharon discovers the biological father of her children, a guy named ben living in boston, has many, many others.

    >> today i know of 70 kids.

    >> reporter: ben doesn't hold the record. "new york times" reporter jacqueline discovered one donor with at least 150 offspring. the mothers are shocked.

    >> they're very unhappy. they asked the sperm bank to stop selling the sperm from this one donor. and when they realized the numbers were so big, and they claim that the bank refused.

    >> reporter: sperm banks are not required to limit how many children can be fathered by one donor.

    >> you have a situation of a single donor being used so that they fathered 150 children, there is no doubt, none, that that is unethical practice.

    >> reporter: ryan cramer whose biological father was a sperm donor started a website with his mother, to connect the children of sperm donors with each other and their fathers. it's all voluntary.

    >> today we have over 32,000 people in a similar case who are all interested in meeting their half siblings and biological fathers.

    >> reporter: it was through the site that ben was put in touch with sharon and the children. although he makes it clear he doesn't want to be thought of as dad.

    >> they're not my kids. that's it. like i'm not part of their lives.

    >> reporter: what about the rest of been's 70 some offspring? his fiance lauren worries.

    >> what if they all come knocking or will they all want to meet you?

    >> reporter: this as critics call new regulations so that guys like ben don't wind up as triple digit dads. for "today," george lewis , nbc news, los angeles .

    >> wendy cramer is the founder of a.d you are both moms and you also have children through this process. let me start with you, wendy , because you also have a website that registers donors and donor families. so should we be shocked by these numbers based on whatoff learned through your website?

    >> well, absolutely. and i think it just points to the fact that there needs to be some kind of oversight and some kind of regulation. you can't monitor the number of siblings born until you actually keep track of how many children are being born from each donor.

    >> how do you think that this should be done? in other words, this industry is largely unregulated. so what do you think the change needs to be to change this?

    >> i'm not exactly sure. i'm very clear of what the problems are. you know, large number of sibling groups, medical updates, no sharing of medical information. but i'm not sure what kind of oversight is needed. but i think as a first step, the industry itself needs to acknowledge that there is, indeed, a problem, that families are the effect here and they need to focus less on making money and more on the families that they're helping to create.

    >> are you saying then that there is an issue in terms of they're not thinking -- in other words, what i'm trying to understand is this industry is really about protecting the identities of the donors and the donor families. to some degree that has got to play a part in this. to what degree is that the problem here of trying to be able to keep track of all these names?

    >> right. i think in the past and up until now the industry has been concerned with making money , getting people pregnant, and keeping donors anonymous. and i think first and foremost there's a big piece that's been missing here, which is to ask the question publicly what's in the best interest of these children being born? and that's what we need to look at to make decisions to go forward with.

    >> wendy , stand by, because i want to ask annette about this. that is a really important question. there is a legacy this is going to have on these children who are born in these circumstances.

    >> absolutely. i think it's important that we think about the children at the outset and not after they're born. we think of them as going into this whole process. but maybe their interest is everyone involved. the recipients, the children, the knodonors. we need to balance the interests and make sure we're unduly burdening one group in favor of another and recognize everyone plays a part here, very important part. the role of donors are very significant here because the children wouldn't exist without them, so we need to think about them and their interest as well and the children who really will no say.

    >> are you personally outraged, you are a donor mom, are you personally outraged and, if so, what is your message this morning.

    >> i think i'm shocked. there's probably a number of different factors that come into play. i'm grateful to the industry because i wouldn't have my child without it but i like to see there be more reporting about the numbers, if the banks could share information between and among each other so that sperm donors might not be donating multiple places which i know something they're interested in doing. exchanging sperm independent of the sperm banks. and people reporting not only pregnancies but births back to the sperm bank . they may have an easier time tracking that information. but i think all groups need to work together to ensure that we're able to overcome this difficulty.

    >> nannette, thank you for your part in this story. and also to you, wendy cramer. appreciate it to youth both of you.

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Vote: Should there be a limit on the number of children a sperm donor can father?