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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prolific Sperm Donor Tickles America's Fancy

WASHINGTON -- Really good news on the sperm front: Donor 401 -- an unusually popular man who tans well and remains a mystery -- lives on.

When The Washington Post reported on 11 women who delivered (or are parents of) 14 of his children, the parents were just getting to know one another online. They had connected on a donor web site a couple of years ago.

But after the story, the women were thrust into the media spotlight and then met for the first time in New York when NBC television's "Today" show brought them together. Eight more families with "401" babes came forward.

Caroline George of Oklahoma, mother of a son fathered by 401, called the attention "a whirlwind."

Comedian Stephen Colbert declared on his Comedy Central show that he was donor 401 and offered to sell his sperm online. The women made an appearance on ABC television's "The View." CNN aired a segment on them. An enterprising web site now sells "401" T-shirts.

"It was really weird how easy it was just for us to accept -- 'OK, this is like a whole family we have,'" said Carla Schouten of California, who came to New York with her son.

Probably the most significant development to come from the national attention was contact from a woman in California who had 17 previously unknown vials of 401 sperm, a hot commodity at the Fairfax Cryobank. She offered the samples to the families -- now 18 of them with 25 children -- to divvy up among those who still want children.

The poor guy must be stunned. And it's not over.

Donor 401, who sold his stuff to the Virginia sperm bank at least seven years ago, retired from the sperm business a couple of years ago. His oldest known offspring is 6 years old. Women seeking to have children selected his anonymous profile for a variety of reasons, including his German heritage and his professed warm relationship with his mother.

The women said the publicity generated very little negative reaction, which they braced themselves for, given some of their nontraditional lifestyles.

"At first I had mixed feelings when a big group started developing -- but everyone is turning out to be very like-minded," said Lisa Weix, a Californian with 401 twins. "It's neat to have a full spectrum of people who use this type of conception -- straight couples and gay couples, single moms."

Meanwhile, no word from 401. Unless he's been out of the country or in a tunnel, he must know what he's created. Still, he's silent.