A prolific sperm donor who was used to conceive 36 children is believed to suffer from schizophrenia, narcissistic personality disorder, and was charged with residential burglary a decade ago. Now parents are looking for answers.
Georgia-based firm Xytex included the profile of a sperm donor who claimed to have an IQ of 160 and was working on a neuroscience Ph.D. in engineering. As it turned out, the man lied on his application, and now some parents of the 36 children conceived from his donations between 2000 and 2014 are seeking justice and trying to warn others.
Three Canadian families are seeking legal action against Xytex in what has been described as a “wrongful birth” suit. The donor, Chris Aggeles, was discovered to be a college dropout who lied on his application and is suspected of having schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.
Although none of the plaintiffs have said their children have exhibited signs of schizophrenia, the condition can be hereditary and still may present itself later in life. It occurs in 10 percent of people who have a parent with the condition.
The revelation occurred in 2014 when two mothers who used Aggeles’ sperm connected online and began to research the man. The more they looked, “it just kept getting worse and worse,” Angie Collins said.
As the women dug deeper, the illusion of the “perfect donor” began to erode as his mental and criminal history became clear. “It was like a dream turned nightmare in an instant,” Collins said. The women discovered that the man had been charged with residential burglary in 2005. The psychologist in that case described him competent to stand trial, though mentally ill. The report also said that Aggeles had been hospitalized “numerous times” over seven years due to psychiatric problems.
To date, allegations of fraud and negligent misrepresentation against Xytex have not been proven in court. The company denies any wrongdoing and maintains that it has been in compliance with industry standards.
Collins tried to sue Xytex last year but the case was dismissed because the judge said such a “wrongful birth” suit is not recognized in the state.
Despite their initial court setbacks, the growing group of affected parents and lawyer Nancy Hersch are trying to raise public awareness about the potential drawbacks of using sperm banks.
Collins said that, “Given the current state of affairs in the sperm-bank industry, it is strictly a matter of luck if a sperm donor is an upstanding and healthy individual, not a matter of testing, screening, regulating or legislating.”
“She is the Erin Brockovich of the sperm-bank set,” Hersh said of Collins. “She is very brave and courageous to be doing all of this to prevent these problems from happening to other people.”
Regarding the possibility that her son, who is now 8, Collins said, “You try not to dwell on [the mental illness] too much because you don’t want it to become a self-fulfilling prophesy.”