Crime For Members

How DNA tracing unravelled a sperm theft scandal at a Swedish hospital

TT/The Local
TT/The Local - [email protected]
How DNA tracing unravelled a sperm theft scandal at a Swedish hospital
Five men donated sperm samples for fertility tests, with a doctor later using them for fertility treatments without their knowledge. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB

At least five men in Sweden have unwillingly fathered children after their sperm was used for fertility treatments without their permission.


In a press release, Region Halland confirmed that the fertility treatment centre at the county hospital in the region's capital Halmstad had had "shortcomings in control, follow-ups, and following the applicable laws". 

"It was known that this section existed, but there was insufficient scrutiny into what it did. There has been a lack or proper procedures, follow-ups and control," the region's chief doctor, Anders Åkvist, said in a statement.  

In March, Uppdrag Granskning, the investigations programme run by public broadcaster SVT, reported on the so-called "sperm theft" at the hospital, which took place between 1985 and 1996. 

A doctor at the hospital appears to have used sperm collected for sperm tests as donor sperm in fertility treatment without informing the donors, leading to at least five men becoming fathers unknowingly. 

It has only been since DNA testing became more widespread that it has been possible to connect the children with their real fathers. 

"I've been robbed. It's a huge violation," Bengt, one of the men, told SVT after he learned what had happened. "What's going on in my life. I'm father to a child who was born eight months before my daughter."


Another man, Zdravko Paic, has taken his case to the European Court of Justice, which in July demanded that Sweden provide information on what happened. 

Paic, who is now 74 years old, has now been united with his biological daughter, Emelie Persson, 36, who is also seeking compensation. 

In its report, Region Halland, said that the men whose sperm was used, the women who were inseminated, and the children who were born as a result should all be seen as suffering psychological damage from their medical treatment.

Although the sperm was "stolen" in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the hospital said errors continued to be made as it was already known by 2004 that key documentation was missing in the unit's medical journals, which Åkvist said should have pushed the hospital to investigate. 

He said that the events would be reported to Sweden's health inspectorate under Lex Maria, which covers damage sustained during healthcare treatment in Sweden. 

"What we can do now is to answer any questions and help deal with the concerns which are quite understandably felt by those affected," Åkvist said. 


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