A prolific Dutch sperm donor alleged to have fathered hundreds of children is being taken to court to stop him from conceiving any more.
The civil suit against Jonathan Jacob Meijer, a 41-year-old musician from The Hague who now lives in Kenya, has been launched by the Donorkind Foundation, a Dutch organisation which supports donor children, and a mother who gave birth to a child conceived using his sperm.
They’re asking the court to take action to crack down on Meijer’s excessive donation, which is in breach of existing rules in the Netherlands and many other countries, by identifying which clinics he has donated to and destroying his samples stored there, except for those being held for women who have already had his child and want a genetic sibling.
Ties van der Meer, chair of the Donorkind Foundation, said in a statement that Meijer was believed to have fathered at least 550 children, using at least 13 clinics around the world, and using donation sites and social media to approach people wishing to conceive.
“We are taking action against this man because the national government is doing nothing,” van der Meer said. “He has a global reach via the internet and he does business with large international sperm banks.”
Meijer was already blacklisted in 2017 after the Dutch Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology revealed he had fathered more than 100 children via 11 clinics in the Netherlands. That was in breach of guidelines in the country which stipulate that sperm donors should not father more than 25 children to avoid the risk of incest, inbreeding and psychological distress for donor children who learn they have dozens of biological siblings or more.
But Meijer allegedly continued to donate internationally, often using a pseudonym, using multiple donor websites, according to the Donorkind Foundation.
Lawyer Mark de Hek, who is acting for the foundation, said that by acting on his “urge to reproduce,” Meijer was violating the 25-child limit and acting unlawfully, and harming the families who used his donations to conceive.
“This conduct is dangerous for the mental well-being and health of donor children,” he said in a statement.
The suit against Meijer, which is due to be heard in the coming weeks, alleges he deliberately misled people about the extent of his donation history. Eva, a Dutch woman who gave birth to a child in 2018 using a donation from Meijer, said in a statement that the court action was a last resort to prevent more people being impacted by his actions.
“If I had known he had already fathered more than 100 children I would never have chosen him,” said Eva, whose last name has not been disclosed.
“If I think about the consequences this could have for my child I am sick to my stomach… Many mothers have told him he needs to stop, but nothing helps. So going to court is the only option I have to protect my child.”
Meijer declined to comment on the case when approached by Dutch broadcaster NOS over social media.
While the case is the first lawsuit of its kind in the Netherlands, similar scandals around prolific sperm donors have previously made the headlines, inspiring plans to create a national register of sperm donors in response.
Donorkind Foundation said last year it had identified at least 10 doctors who had illegally used their own sperm to conceive children in the Netherlands, including Jan Karbaat, who DNA testing has established fathered at least 90 children to patients to his fertility clinic in Rotterdam.