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Web Site Unites Kids Of Sperm Donor

Wendy Kramer, left, and her 16-year-old son, Ryan, sit in front of the computer from which Wendy runs the donor sibling registry from her home in the small mountain community of Nederland, Colo., Sunday, June 18, 2006.
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Michelle Jorgenson thought it was odd that her 8-year-old daughter Cheyenne — conceived with sperm from a mystery man known to Jorgenson only as Donor 3066 — was extremely sensitive to sound and walked on her toes.

Jorgenson started checking on the Internet and soon learned of at least six other children around the country who were fathered by 3066. And of those seven, she discovered to her alarm, two have autism, and two others, Cheyenne included, show signs of a sensory disorder tied closely to autism.

The children's mothers located one another beginning a year ago through the Donor Sibling Registry, a Web site run out of this Colorado mountain town. It enables mothers artificially inseminated by the same donor — and children fathered by the same man — to find each other.

In this case, the women all used 3066, whose sperm was provided by the California Cryobank, based in Los Angeles.

"Pretty much you're thinking this person has a perfect medical history," said Jorgenson, who lives in Sacramento, Calif. "And then later I find out that some of the other siblings have other disabilities that are or are not attributed to the donor. I wouldn't have chosen him had I known this had existed."

The Web site that brought them together is run out of Wendy Kramer's home in Nederland. Kramer started the registry so her son Ryan could find his siblings, and she said it has led to family reunions and brought joy to people who send out e-mail inquiries that typically begin, "Hi, you don't know me, but we're related."

But the site has also become a clearinghouse for those seeking answers about everything from potentially dangerous medical conditions to personality quirks. Often, they come away with more questions than answers because most sperm banks and clinics refuse to share confidential files about donors.

"There are people on our Web site seeking siblings because their kids have medical issues, for sure, and even in a medical emergency the sperm banks won't facilitate any contact, which is kind of frustrating," Kramer said.

So far, the mothers who were impregnated with 3066's sperm have been frustrated in their attempts to find out more about the man and confirm their suspicions that their children inherited their medical problems from him.