Dr. Maxey has been in the news, on and off, for the past couple of years. Most recently, Newsweek ran a profile of the 51-year-old Michigan doctor. Maxey is one of the country's most prolific sperm donors. For 14 years, between 1980 and 1994, Maxey donated his splooge twice a week, for $20 a pop. Now he's done the calculations, and he figures that he could have upwards of 400 unknown children, many of which could still live in the area.
The New York Post hilariously calls Maxey a "sperm shooting star," and there is certainly something funny about both Maxey's campaign and his history. While we're used to thinking of women having a ticking biological clock that turns our wombs into waiting rooms for potential offspring, it is surprising to hear of a man with the same concerns. Maxey says that part of the motivation was altruistic — "I loved having kids, and to have these women doomed to wandering around with no family didn't seem right, and it's easy to come up with a semen donation." But 25% of it was "some other motivation," some paternal instinct or biological drive to father as many children as possible. Yet now he has come to realize that his donations could lead to trouble as more and more of his biological children come of age.
In 2007, two of Maxey's daughters found him through the Donor Sibling Registry. So far, they are the only of his donor-children to contact him. They meet several times a year, to go rock climbing, have ice cream, or other such family-friendly activities. Even though Maxey has been campaigning since 2006, he claims their relationship is what spurred him into action for the regulation of sperm banks:
"I had this 'Oh my God' moment, thinking, how many kids have been produced?" he says. "I thought the doctors were keeping track of each birth, but when I realized they weren't, I began to worry. What if they start dating one another?" He also began to worry about their genetic health. "I wanted to know if I have anything totally lethal or deranged or recessive in my genes that I may have passed along."
A year earlier, in an interview with Nightline, he expressed a similar concern, about the possibility that his son could meet a half sister and pass on some of his recessive genes:
"That is what I think is the problem with total anonymity," Maxey said. "It's that I have a son that lives in the area and most of the patients came from a 100- or 150-mile radius of the area. If you do math, again, there may be 100 young women that are basically my son's age that are his half-siblings. I have to tell him there is an awful lot of your brothers and sisters that you don't know and I don't know."
Fortunately, Maxey has been tested, and found that he does not carry any scary genetic defects. So leaving aside the weirdness of half-sibling incest, there is not too much to worry about. But Maxey would like to see that sperm banks start offering more rigorous testing for donors and keeping better track of what happens to children born of donated sperm. Most clinics do not currently offer genetic testing or particularly in depth counseling for prospective moms. And while many limit the number of families who receive material from any one donor to 15-25, there is still not a lot of information out there regarding the donor dads and their potential offspring. "All I'm really advocating for is the absolute informed consent for the mothers," says Maxey.
Michigan Doctor Fathered 400 Kids Through Sperm Donations [New York Post]
Mapping The God Of Sperm [Newsweek]
Kirk Maxey, Father Of 400 Kids [Huffington Post]
Confessions Of A Sperm Donor [ABC]