Are you related to one of James MacDougall’s children?
The family of a Facebook sperm donor who has fathered fifteen children to lesbian women without telling them he has a genetic condition have claimed that he was offering his services because he’s ‘kind-hearted’.
James MacDougall, 37, went ahead with private sperm donations to a number of lesbian women despite knowing that he suffered from Fragile X syndrome, an inheritable condition which leads to low IQ and developmental delay, and cannot be cured.
His identity emerged last night after an almost unprecedented move by a judge in a Family Court battle – after he demanded access to some of the children. Mrs Justice Lieven, sitting in Derby, named MacDougall, 37, to stop other women from using him as a sperm donor.
His incurable genetic condition leads to low IQ and developmental delay which could affect the children he fathered.
Now his adoptive parents June and John MacDougall have spoken in defence of James and revealed their son’s donor obsession.
Mrs MacDougall, 73, told MailOnline how her son was now ‘struggling with it all’ after being banned from being involved in the lives of some of the children he had fathered.
James MacDougall, 37, went ahead with private sperm donations despite knowing that he suffered from Fragile X syndrome
James MacDougall, 37, went ahead with private sperm donations despite knowing that he suffered from Fragile X syndrome. The genetic condition, which is inheritable, leads to low IQ and developmental delay and cannot be cured. Pictured: Library image of a technician in blue gloves doing control check of the in vitro fertilization process using a microscope
Sperm donation in the UK
Every year, around 2,500 men and women in the UK have a baby with the help of a sperm donor.
But donation from men in the UK is lower than demand, according to reports.
The exact number of sperm donors in the UK is unknown, but in 2008, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) reported that out of the 500 new donors it needed each year, it had 307 new donor registrations between 2006 and 2008.
In 2014, to tackle the shortage of donors in the UK, a national sperm bank serving the UK opened in Birmingham.
It closed less than two years later after just nine donors signed up.
In the UK, it is illegal for sperm donors to be paid for their donations.
But they are allowed to receive a maximum of £35 for each visit to the clinic, cover their expenses.
Using a private sperm donor can cost people around £700 to £1,600 for each cycle of treatment, through the HFEA.
People using donated sperm should be offered counselling before they go ahead, the NHS says.
In 1945, Dr Mary Barton, working in London, published the first modern account of Donor Insemination in the British Medical Journal, which was widley condemned.
The retired hospital assistant and dinner lady said: ‘He wanted to be part of their lives, he wanted to see his children.
‘He is kind hearted and would do anything for anybody but he is gullible. He just wanted to help those people, help those women in a gay relationship fulfil their dreams and become parents.
‘He didn’t seek any money, as far as we are aware, for providing that service, he just did it.’
Mrs MacDougall and husband John, also 73, and a retired city council engineer, are supporting their son ‘whole heartedly’ against ‘cruel’ accusations they say have been made against him by sone of the lesbian mums.
The couple, who have two other children, told how James was a carrier of the condition Fragile X.
His mum, who gave evidence in a court case in his support, said: ‘Rather than being a sufferer he is a carrier which he could pass on to the next generation. He inherited it from his birth mother, as his two half siblings did.
‘But he would have told those mothers about the condition, we are convinced he would, to help protect the children.’
Mrs MacDougall, speaking from the comfortable family home in Nottinghamshire, claimed her son is ‘a victim’ in a court ruling which went against him being in his bid to be allowed access to four of the children he had fathered.
The court had heard he had signed an agreement saying he did not want any contact with some of the children but he had applied to the courts for parental responsibility orders, and child arrangements orders, allowing him to spend time with four of his children.
Three mothers opposed the father’s request.
Mrs MacDougall claims her son is a ‘victim of those girls’ and had never forgone parental responsibility for some of the children born after he advertised on a social media page for lesbian women seeking sperm donors, are currently aged between three and a few months old.
Mrs Justice Lieven (pictured) found that MacDougall was a complex person, with learning difficulties and on the autistic spectrum, with fixed views, concrete thinking and a profound lack of insight
Speaking to MailOnline from her lounge, where she said she had helped look after and entertain one of her ‘grandchildren’ she said: ‘The little girl stayed here so often and James and us would help look after her while her mum and her partner were busy working.’
She told how her beloved son, adopted as an allegedly abused baby, suffered from ‘autism and learning difficulites’ and survived on disability handouts while holding down volunteer work.
She said: ‘This court case has broken his heart, and ours.
‘When he first told me he had become a dad two to three years ago, he showed me a picture and said ‘This little baby is mine’.
‘I was shocked because we didn’t even know he had a girlfriend and then he told me he was a sperm donor and I thought it was one and couldn’t believe it was any more.
‘He said there had been other times but he didn’t want any money, he just wanted to help women, who couldn’t conceive naturally, have babies.
‘It was his gift to them and he never did anything illegally, as far as we are concerned.
‘He never knew the women, he apparently advertised in social media unknown to us, but he became good friends with a few of them.
Mrs Justice Lieven, sitting at a court in Derby (pictured: Derby Combined Courts), has ruled that he should not have parental responsibility for the children, because it would cause harm to them
‘When he first told us he was going to become a dad we were so looking forward to becoming grandparents. Then he mentioned he didn’t have a girlfriend but was acting as a sperm donor.
‘It was a shock, a huge shock, but we’re not cross with him.’
Her husband added: ‘It has been a blessing we have had grandchildren. Our son has done nothing wrong. We do not want him crucified!’
His wife told jow much her son had enjoyed having contact with at least one of his fathered kids before relationships soured, saying: ‘The baby girl often stayed here while her female parents were busy, my son and we loved our times together.
‘At least two of the lesbian mums are fighting against our son and we don’t know why.
‘My son had never wanted this, it had stressed him out and we are worried for is wellbeing but no authorities are helping us,
‘He had never had children of his own in a conventional relationship but he has fathered 15 in a different relationship as a sperm donor. That was his choice, and although it was shocking at first, we support his decision.
‘We have grandchildren from our other son and daughter, and to be so again from our middle child was an exciting prospect.
‘But it would appear he had been taken advantage of by the women he has tried to help.
‘Yes, he has a condition but he would have advised those he fell should know.’
Mrs Justice Lieven said MacDougall’s children, born after he advertised on a social media page for lesbian women seeking sperm donors, are aged between three and a few months old.
Despite signing an agreement that he did not want any contact with some of his children, MacDougall applied to the Family Court for parental responsibility orders, and child arrangements orders, allowing him to spend time with four of his children.
Three mothers opposed this, and Mrs Justice Lieven, sitting at Derby, ruled that he should not have parental responsibility for the children, because it would cause harm to them.
She forbade him from applying to the court for the next three years, because of his complete lack of insight into his conduct, and because it would be traumatizing to the mothers, and said he should be named to stop other women from using him as a sperm donor.
He chose to be a sperm donor despite knowing he could not go through a clinic because he has Fragile X syndrome, she said in a handed down judgment, and she had no confidence he would not act as a sperm donor in future. She had no confidence in him fully explaining to any women the true implications of his fragile X syndrome and ‘there is a very specific benefit in his being named in the hope that women will look him up on the internet and see this judgment’.
She refused his lawyer’s request for his continued anonymity, saying, ‘The usual approach of anonymity in the Family Courts should not be used as a way for parents to behave in an unacceptable manner and then hide behind the cloak of anonymity.’
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What is the law on sperm donation?
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is the UK Government’s independent regulator overseeing fertility treatment and research.
Sperm donors should normally be aged between 18 and 41-years-old.
A donor does not have any legal rights and responsibilities for children born from the donation, provided they donate through a licensed UK fertility clinic.
They will have no say over their upbringing and won’t be required to pay anything towards their care.
However, if the donation is not done at clinic licensed by the HFEA, it is possible that they could be considered the legal father of any children conceived from a donation.
If a donation results in the birth of a child or children, the donor can apply for information only on the number of children born, their gender, their year of birth.
If a donor donated after April 1 2005, a child born from the donation can find out certain details about them.
If they are aged 16, details they can be told include a physical description, where you were born, ethnicity, and marital status.
If they are aged 18, they can get the donors full name, date and town of birth, and a recent address.
However, a child born by private donor may be denied the chance to find their biological father.