How did DNA help uncover a macabre plot?

It was the 1980s, and as Jacoba Ballard grew up, she felt she didn’t belong in her family. Being a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl, she felt something wasn’t right, having a dark-skinned father. Once Jacoba turned 21 years old, Ballard took a home paternity test with a saliva sample from her and one from her father and discovered that she was not his biological daughter. Her mother explained that because her father was infertile, she used another man’s sperm to conceive her, as they both wanted a child very much. It wasn’t until Ballard took a sibling DNA test that she discovered she had around 94 half-siblings all over the world. There are services on the internet that take your DNA and compare it to a database to find out if you have relatives in other countries. Ballard used this service to uncover a doctor’s macabre plan.

 

Who is Donald Cline?

Donald Cline was a doctor in Indiana, USA. In the seventies he offered fertility services to couples who could not have children naturally. Donald took advantage of the couple’s desperation and promised them the child they had always wanted. He would ask the men for a semen sample with the excuse that he would use it to inseminate their wives. When the time came for insemination, Cline would use his semen, not the semen sample he received from the men. After Ballard discovered what he had done, they brought Cline to trial, where he stated he planned to make smarter, stronger, and healthier humans. Cline believed his DNA was unique and that he should use it to change humanity. What he didn’t know was that his DNA had problems.

 

The problems his children inherited

Of the 94 of Cline’s children on record today, all of them, without exception, are known to have some form of autoimmune disorder. Cline developed rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that would have ruled him out at any fertility clinic. Another problem inherited by his children is that they all live within a 40-kilometre radius, so the likelihood that they would have had a sexual encounter, being siblings, was high. The good news is that it didn’t happen. Lisa, known in the Netflix documentary “Our Father” as sister 22, says it was overwhelming to learn that Cline is her biological father because he had been her gynaecologist for many years. She commented on how disgusting it was to think of her father seeing her naked and that she didn’t understand what motivated him to do it.

 

 

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