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University of Utah Apologizes for Sperm Donor “Mix-Up”

by Norris Law Group on April 30, 2014

u_of_utah_logoOn Thursday, April 24, 2014, the Deseret News reported that the University of Utah has apologized to one family regarding a “mix-up” involving sperm donated to labs at the institution, and has offered free paternity testing to others. But university officials do not plan to actively seek out families that may have been affected by the possibly intentional acts of Thomas Lippert, who was employed as an andrology laboratory assistant at the University of Utah from 1988 to 1993. Additionally, the university also cannot confirm or deny that Lippert’s actions were intentional or accidental, based on the fact that documentation of his work is limited.

A report from the University of Utah’s Special Review Committee released Thursday states that an apology from university officials is warranted and deserved by a Texas family that found out about the mix-up through commercial DNA testing on their daughter last year. This report, however, does not offer much detail as to why the daughter of John and Pamela Branum, who received help from the University of Utah labs when conceiving her in 1991, shares DNA with Thomas Lippert.

It appears that Lippert donated sperm while employed by both Reproductive Medical Technologies and the U.’s Community Laboratory in Salt Lake City.In a clear breach of ethics, Lippert also processed his own donations. Lippert was not legally acknowledged as the father of any children, and died in 1999 of health problems related to alcoholism.

Dr. Sean Mulvihill, associate vice president for clinical affairs and CEO of the U.’s medical group, is quoted: “These events occurred almost 20 years ago, the lab is closed, the key principals are deceased, and the records from this era are incomplete…We have accepted responsibility for this situation, and we will continue doing what we can to help provide those impacted with answers.”

Mulvihill added adding that the U. remains committed to working with families that come forward with concerns. Patients who used the labs in the late 1980s through 1998 and have questions or wish to seek free paternity testing are invited to contact the University of Utah at 801-587-5852.

Attorney Graham Norris and his associates at the Norris Law Group serve the residents of Utah County and throughout Utah in the area of divorce and family law. Contact them today at 801-932-1238 or online for a free consultation.

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