Conscripts in Sweden forcibly became fathers after sperm donation in the 1960s and 1970s

A research project in the late 1960s and early 1970s tested the possibility of freezing sperm in liquid nitrogen. Recruits attached to a military institute in the student city of Uppsala received compensation if they provided sperm for research. The compensation was 50 kroner, equivalent to ten daily allowances in the army at that time.

DNA research now shows that at least three of the recruits are biological parents of one or more children born with the help of the vaccination program at Uppsala Hospital. “I’m feeling a little dizzy. I don’t know how to deal with it,” someone says on Swedish public radio program SVT.

The head of the sperm research department was the well-known Swedish fertility doctor Karl Gemsel, who died in 2007. The professor gained fame by developing a hormonal preparation for women who cannot have children. In doing so, he laid the foundation for contemporary fertility treatments, including artificial insemination. He was also responsible for the pregnancy test. “What he did is pioneering. But of course I cannot explain or defend what happened to the recruits’ semen.”

New family

One of the recruits fathered three daughters without his knowledge. “If I had known that beforehand, I would never have participated,” he says on the show. He has chosen to remain anonymous, even for his donor children.

Until recently, one of those donor children, 51-year-old Teresia Jacques, believed her biological father was a medical student. This is what the hospital told her. She says on the show that she is curious about her family. “I didn’t have a sister and now I have two. Even if you’re 50, it’s still great.”

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Denton Watson

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