Asia News Network (Yomiuri Shimbun), Tokyo, Japan | World | Sat, July 14 2012, 9:29 AM
About 30 percent of fertility clinics that use sperm from anonymous donors have disposed of donor records, decreasing the chances that children will be able to trace their biological fathers in the future, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
Under the Medical Practitioners Law, medical institutions are required to keep clinical donor records for five years.
As children conceived via artificial insemination by a donor (AID) treatment may seek information on their biological fathers when they are grown up, the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology advises the medical institutions to keep the records of couples taking the AID treatment for a longer period of time. But there are no laws regulating the management of this information.
Children may not be able to identify their biological fathers if records on the AID treatment are lost. A problem with the current system is that the way in which the information on AID treatments is controlled is at the discretion of medical institutions.
Since 1997, medical institutions have been asked to register with the society prior to implementing the treatment.
The Yomiuri Shimbun conducted a survey in June on 30 registered medical institutions, and 23 of them responded to questions on the retention of clinical records. Among the 23 institutions, four said they did not carry out the treatment or were not sure whether they had performed the medical procedure.
Of the remaining 19 institutions, 12 said they keep all clinical records of the couples who have taken the treatment, which contain information that identifies the sperm donors. Another institution said while it disposed of the records, it still keeps other relevant documents.
The other six institutions do not keep the clinical records that contained information to identify donors. One of these said that while clinical records are now kept, they used to be disposed of in the past. Another said clinical records are kept but they do not contain information to identify donors, and yet another said all records were disposed of when the institution closed. The remaining three said they disposed of the records after a certain period of time.
The AID treatment program was first used for a baby born at Keio University Hospital in 1949. Since then, it is estimated that more than 10,000 babies have been born through the treatment.