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Longmont woman sues fertility doctor for using his own sperm

Susan Crowder helped lobby the Kentucky legislature to pass a law that's allowing her to sue the Louisville-based doctor.

LONGMONT, Colo. — Sitting at her kitchen table in Longmont, Susan Crowder leafs through old photos. Some are Polaroids, others are colored by age. Most show her family. 

In the decades since taking the photos, she hadn't thought much about how her family grew -- nor about the Louisville, Ky. fertility doctor who helped her and her then-husband conceive. 

"Obviously we were just excited about our children," she said, going through the photographs. 

She hadn't through about that doctor, until her daughter went online and took an Ancestry.com DNA test. The doctor, Marvin Yussman, was her daughter's father. 

"This isn't how this was supposed to go," Crowder said. 

Yussman told her he would use a medical student as a sperm donor, instead Crowder said he did it himself.

"I try not to think about it too much because it just gives me the creeps," she said. "I never got to give my consent to my doctor being my donor." 

In a letter filed with the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure and provided by Crowder's lawyer, Yussman said: "On very rare occasions when the donor did not show and no frozen specimen was available, I used my own sperm if I otherwise would have been an appropriate donor: appropriate blood type, race, physical characteristics." 

"My recollection is that such circumstances occurred only about a half dozen times in the many years of the program," he wrote in the letter.

Yussman said he did not want to talk about what happened when contacted by a 9NEWS reporter Wednesday. 

"It's so deceitful, so unethical, so immoral," Crowder said. "I just can't even apply all the terms to it."

In Kentucky, there wasn't much Crowder could do. She said she tried complaining to the University of Louisville, where Yussman worked; she wrote the state medical board and finally turned to the legislature. 

Crowder lobbied the lawmakers to change state law to make it illegal for other doctors to use their own sperm to impregnate women. It also allowed women like Crowder to sue doctors who they feel violated them by doing so in the past. 

"We're victims of deceit and really just immoral behavior. The deceit is really hard. There’s nothing worse than someone lying to you," she said. 

Her attorney, Amy Wheatley, said she filed a second lawsuit against Yussman last week on behalf of a different woman. "In fact, he artificially inseminated this woman twice so both of her children are his biological children," Wheatley said. 

She said she believes there are other women who don't know Yussman fathered their children. So far, Crowder said her daughter has 10 half siblings.

"This isn't what doctors are supposed to do," she said. "You trust in them and it was wrong," Crowder said. 

The photos on her kitchen table show a happy outcome and smiling memories that's now expanded further — Crowder has three grandchildren — but it's what's not in the photos that she must confront.

"It was so deceitful and he knew it was deceitful and I'm still waiting for some kind of accountability," she said.  

The University of Louisville Health hospital system said in a statement to 9NEWS: “UofL Hospital is sympathetic to those who have been impacted by recent news of these events and respects the wide range of emotions the patient and her children may feel. In 1975, the fertility clinic was an independent clinic not associated with, or part of UofL Hospital. Marvin Yussman is no longer a physician with our organization. The medical practices the Plaintiff alleges are not procedures that UofL Hospital would condone.” 

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