A shocked woman did a home DNA test to discover her real father was an Essex mover whose sperm had been used without his permission by a Harley Street fertility doctor.
The disturbing story is set to be revealed in The Gift, a new BBC radio series which will be broadcast from next Monday.
It examines how millions of Britons and others around the world have taken tests sold by companies such as Ancestry.co.uk and 23andMe, often after receiving them as gifts from friends and family.
One of the interviewees, identified under the false name Madeleine, had always believed her father to be a young medical student who willingly donated his sperm before it resulted in her mother’s pregnancy in a clinic run by Dr. Reynold H. Boyd died in 1991 at the age of 90.
Because she suspected that Dr. Boyd himself could be her father, she took a DNA test, but after uploading the results to Ancestry’s website, discovered the fertility expert was not related to her.
Instead, her real father turned out to be a man named Peter, who had never been a sperm donor but was in another of Dr. Boyd-run clinic in East London when he was trying to conceive with his wife.
It is assumed that Dr. Boyd then used Peter’s semen when treating Madeleine’s mother, who allegedly was unaware of the true origins.
A shocked woman did a home DNA test to discover her real father was an Essex mover whose sperm had been used without his permission by a Harley Street fertility doctor. Above: The woman’s mother was examined at the clinic by Dr. Reynold Boyd treated at 52 Harley Street (pictured). The clinic closed decades ago
Peter, who is now in his 80s and retired, had his own DNA test done after receiving one as a gift from his family.
Born in 1969, Madeleine initially messaged him on Ancestry’s platform, but received no response.
After finding out his phone number, she called him out of the blue.
Madeleine says on the upcoming show, “He picked up the phone and I said, ‘I match you at Ancestry.’
“A parent-child DNA test match.” He sounded a bit confused and just said, “What do you mean?”
“I said, ‘About Ancestry. Ancestry, you know, the DNA test you took. I told him about the clinic, I said my mum had been there and about donated sperm and things like that.”
“He said, ‘I really don’t know what you mean.’ And then I said, ‘Didn’t you go to a fertility clinic in London and donate your sperm?’
“And then he said, No, no, he hasn’t.” Then he started saying, thinking about it, he’d been to a fertility clinic, but it wasn’t in London, it was in Wanstead…
dr Reynold H. Boyd died in 1991 at the age of 90
“I thought, oh my god, this clinic is run by Dr. Reynold Boyd,” she said.
The clinic of dr. Boyd at 52 Harley Street closed decades ago.
As was customary at the time, Dr. Boyd his own obituary. It is in a file available on the British Medical Journal website.
It tells how he was born in New Zealand and traveled to England with his wife in the 1930s.
He initially specialized in urogenital surgery before turning to infertility treatment.
In addition to his clinics in Harley Street and East London, he also had a branch in Chelmsford.
“I started working in the fertility department … when a semen analysis was an insult to the husband,” he wrote. “I pioneered artificial insemination.”
Peter says on the show that “for better or for worse” he never consented to the use of his sperm.
“I can only assume that Madeline’s mother went there to find her bearings and took some of my stuff,” he adds.
Madeleine met her father in person, an experience she described as “unpleasant” because he was “a complete stranger.”
It was not until she was 40 that Madeleine discovered that the man she had always believed to be her biological father was not her real father.
She and her brother were conceived in separate fertility clinics after the man she believed was her father had a vasectomy.
Host Jenny Kleeman says in the preview for The Gift that using the kits created a global database of DNA “without us really realizing it”.
On the show, we hear from other men and women whose lives have changed after taking a test. The test is offered by Ancestry.co.uk for £59 and requires users to spit into a tube before sending it in the post.
Ms. Kleeman adds: “In six episodes, I will meet the men and women whose lives are forever changed after opening a box containing a DNA test.”
Bought by millions of Britons, Ancestry’s DNA kits promise to uncover behavioral traits determined by your genetics. Above: One of the kits
DNA databases on popular websites have been used to solve crimes in the past.
Notorious serial killer Joseph James DeAngelo, better known as the Golden State Killer, was caught using this method.
Officers created a DNA profile of DeAngelo using crime scene evidence and then uploaded it to a public genealogy database typically used by people to look up relatives.
Police were then able to identify the killer’s distant relatives and use public records to create a family tree and eventually identify him.
Bought by millions of Britons, Ancestry’s DNA kits promise to uncover behavioral traits determined by your genetics, including whether you’re an introvert or a risk-taker.
Ancestry’s kits cost £59. Above: The test conducted by a MailOnline reporter earlier this year
Ancestry identifies behavioral traits by interviewing people whose DNA has been analyzed and finding connections between their genes and reactions
Earlier this year, a MailOnline reporter put one of the kits to the test.
While some of the traits identified were correct, others – including the likelihood of napping and remembering dreams – did not correspond to reality.
Some Britons have used the DNA kits to uncover earth-shattering facts about their ancestry.
Teacher Nicki Field told MailOnline in 2019 how she used one of Ancestry’s tests to find her real father.
Her mother had told her as a teenager that the man she thought was her father was actually just her stepfather.
Her mother then told her that a man named Gary Holmes was her father, but DNA testing showed he was not related to her.
After sending her DNA to Ancestry.co.uk, she published the results on websites that find people with common genes.
Finally, in July 2017, her attention was drawn to what was allegedly her first cousin.
Further investigation revealed that his uncle, a married father of four, was Nicki’s biological father.
The Gift begins Monday 11 September at 11am with weekly episodes airing on BBC Radio 4. The episodes can be heard on BBC Sounds.