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'You may have 300 kids': Coast man's shock discovery

Dr Donald Whittaker (left)  meets his biological daughter, Kerri Favarato for the first time in February 2017.
Dr Donald Whittaker (left) meets his biological daughter, Kerri Favarato for the first time in February 2017.

MEET the former Nambour abortion doctor who could have more than 300 children.

Dr Donald Whittaker used to donate his sperm 'around twice a week' for five years when he was a medical student at the University of Queensland in the early 1980s.

His late wife, Dr Libby Rimmer founded the East Coast Women's Centre in Nambour, the first Coast clinic to offer pregnancy terminations, where he worked for years.

 

The late Dr Libby Jane Rimmer.
The late Dr Libby Jane Rimmer. Kathy Sundstrom

Dr Whittaker was proud of his contribution as anonymous sperm donor to those who wanted to have a family.

"I did it as a gift to those people who needed help," he said.

"I'd do it sometimes once a week, sometimes twice, sometimes three times if there was a need."

He never expected one of his donations to track him down and find him.

But that's exactly what Brisbane mum, Kerri Favarato did. It took her 22 years.

When he told her how often he donated she worked out she could have around 300 siblings.

'"He told me they used to call him in 'once or twice a week' because he had such a good sperm count and a woman needed a donation," Ms Favarto said.

"If you work that out over five years, you could be looking at 30 to 300 children".

Mrs Favarato (was told a "day before my 13th birthday" she was a donor conceived person.

"My parents were separated when I was young and dad came by my school the day before my 13th birthday to give me a birthday card," Mrs Favarato said.

"When I got home and told mum, she said 'it's probably time I told you he is not your real dad.'"

This stunning revelation in 1995 sparked Mrs Favarato's expansive and painstaking search for details on who her biological father was.

After having no luck with the clinician who treated her mum and being denied her records through Freedom of Information, she turned to DNA testing and Ancestry.com to try and complete her family tree.

 

Ancestry.com's web page.
Ancestry.com's web page. Kathy Sundstrom

Hours and hours of searching over 22 years finally led her to Dr Whittaker's office on February 21.

She made the phone call that would change her life.

"I phoned his office and left a message asking to "speak to the doctor in relation to a private family matter'", Mrs Favarato said.

"He called me back five minutes later and said 'how do I know you.

"I asked him if ever ever donated sperm in the 1980s. He said 'yes'.

"I said 'I think you might be my biological father."

His response was better than she could have hoped for.

"He said 'oh my goodness, hello darling, how are you, tell me about yourself, and tell me how you found me'.

"When I told him, he said 'you are definitely mine, that's exactly what I would do, when can I meet you."

They met the next morning and Mrs Favarato finally came face-to-face with her biological father.

"He turned up at my door with a purple orchid from his garden and a dozen eggs from his chickens," Mrs Favarato said.

"When he sat down he said 'geez, you look like my sister Hilda."

They did an official DNA test which confirmed what they already knew.

"He said he was so proud of me for finding him. He was really overwhelmed to be found," Mrs Favarato said.

Dr Whittaker said he always used to wonder what happened to his donations.

He didn't believe there could be that many of his kids running around, even though he made donations on average twice a week.

"Maybe there's two or three," he said.

It was "shock to the system" to be found, but one he said was so worthwhile.

"I inherited a daughter and grand kids all in one hit," he said.

"It was the most amazing experience to meet her.

"It generated a lot of incredible feelings inside myself."

He didn't believe spending his profession as a doctor performing pregnancy terminations contradicted with his decision as a student to help impregnate women.

"I believe passionately in having two children, no more," he said.

"But you should be having them with partners who are the best partners you can find."

And assisted reproduction was a careful planned process.

Dr Whittaker said all people had the right to know who their biological parents were and donor records should be available.

"It is a wonderful thing to find what your genetic ties are," he said.

He was very proud of his new found daughter.

"She's got tenacity in her, that's a family trait. And the amount of work she did to find me was quite staggering."

He encouraged other anonymous donors from the early 1980s to come forward.

"Every child should know its genetic parents."

Topics:  abortion donald whittaker east coast women's centre editors picks fertility ivf sperm donors


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