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Woman's five children have over 43 half-siblings after sperm donor bungle

By Georgia Weir|

There are bound to be a handful of half-siblings unknowingly co-existing when a sperm donor has been used in conception. However, one mum has found herself shocked to find out her children have 43 half-siblings as a result of apparent mismanagement of the clinic and wider Australian laws surrounding sperm donors.

Shannon Ashton and her partner first visited the Queensland Fertility Group back in 2002 after being diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

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Ms. Ashton and her partner. (Instagram)

The same-sex couple would go on to use an anonymous sperm donor, registered with the Queensland clinic to have five children. The sperm donor was simply known as 'Donor 188' described as a 'typical Aussie, sporty bloke' on the database.

However, it did not take long for Ashton to discover that her five children were not the only offspring of Donor 188 living in Australia.

In 2004, when the couple's firstborn, Zac was one years old, they enrolled the toddler in a friend's daycare. It was here that Ashton would come across another same-sex couple who had also had children using Donor 188's sperm.

"I rattled off a couple of things, and the look on her face just made me think, "What? What?" It turned out that within this daycare we had both used Donor 188 and in fact our kids were half-siblings," Ashton writes on her personal blog.

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After enrolling her eldest in daycare, Ashton found another same-sex couple who had also produced offspring from Donor 188. (SBS)

Following this, Ms. Ashton emailed the clinic asking for information on the number of children conceived from Donor 188. She was told there were 43 other children who had been born from Donor 188's sperm and 48 children in total including her own.?

To add a degree of complexity, when Ashton and her partner initially consulted the clinic, they were told that Donor 188 would be comfortable being identified in the distant future. But the couple were later told that this was a mistake on the clinic's behalf and that Donor 188 would like to remain anonymous.

However, when her eldest son Zac took a DNA test, Ashton was shocked to find yet another half-sibling that did not appear on the initial list from the donor clinic.?

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Ashton will appear tonight on SBS's 'Inconceivable: The Secret Business of Breeding Humans'. (SBS)

"How many more kids aren't on our list?," Ms. Ashton said.?

"I had blindly trusted that the clinic would have thought out these things and that there would be strict limits put in place."?

"There's no overwriting legislation. There's nothing governing what goes on, and I didn't know that. I had no idea," the mum adds.

Ashton and her eldest son did manage to track down Donor 188 through DNA testing which she detailed in a blog post of hers.

"My clinic lost his contact details. They had no way to contact him to explain that there was a mistake with the allocation of our donor and to ask him whether he was, twenty years later, still unwilling to be identified," the mum writes.

"The outcome was not unexpected C he was taken aback and, I feel, would prefer to keep his life simple and not have any contact with us. And that is okay."

Ms. Ashton's story will air on tonight's episode of SBS's 'Inconceivable: The Secret Business of Breeding Humans'.

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