Fourth Dutch doctor identified as having used own sperm in fertility treatment

A fourth Dutch gynaecologist has been identified as having used his own sperm in fertility treatment during the 1970s and 1980s.

The revelation comes after a third such fertility scandal, which emerged in public only last week, was described as “the tip of the iceberg”.

The latest rogue doctor has been named as Henk Nagel, who fathered at least one child between 1977 and 1985 at the Carolus Hospital fertility clinic in Den Bosch, now part of the Jeroen Bosch hospital group.

The chairman of the hospital board of management, Dr Piet-Hein Buiting, said Dr Nagel’s actions had been “incomprehensible and inadmissible”. He confirmed that an investigation was under way to try to establish whether Dr Nagel might also have fathered a number of other children.

Under a change in Dutch law in 2004, once donor-conceived children reach the age of 16 they are entitled to know the identities of their biological parents.

As a result, anonymous sperm donations have been banned since then and all donors must be registered, although their personal details are only to be divulged in appropriate circumstances.

According to Dr Buiting, the latest case came to light when a person born as a result of fertility treatment approached the hospital and said he was trying to find his biological father.

DNA tests carried out as a result of that search found “matches with blood relatives of the former gynaecologist” Dr Nagel. The hospital approached Dr Nagel, by then retired, and further tests confirmed he was the person’s father.

He subsequently confessed to using his own sperm in three other fertility treatments, although it remains unclear whether children were born as a result.

“He told us he was doing it to help the prospective parents,” said Dr Buiting. “He said he would not have done it later when the treatment became more regulated.”

Prior cases

Dr Nagel is the fourth Dutch doctor known to have used his own sperm to father children while telling patients at the fertility clinic that the sperm came from anonymous donors.

The most recent identified prior to this was Dr Jos Beek, whose case became public last week when the Alrijne Hospital in Leiden appealed for women treated at his clinic to contact a telephone helpline. He’s known to have fathered at least 21 children between 1973 and 1986. He died in 2019.

In 2019, it emerged that Dr Jan Karbaat fathered at least 49 children and perhaps as many as 80, during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. In October 2020, it emerged that Dr Jan Wildschut fathered at least 17 children between 1980 and 1993.

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