A Michigan doctor believed to have used his own sperm to father hundreds of babies with patients over his 40-year career – sometimes without their knowledge – has been pictured with a daughter who connected with him after discovering he was her dad through an online DNA test.
Jaime Hall, 61, is one of six siblings who traced their paternal DNA to Dr Philip Peven, 104, through 23andMe decades after he treated each of their mothers.
Hall described her bizarre experience meeting her biological father in an interview with The Sun this week, sharing photos of the pair together.
She said when she first reached out to Peven about the DNA test results in December 2019 he admitted to inseminating her mother – and hundreds of other women – when he worked as a sperm donor in the late 40s and in his medical practice as a obstetrician/gynecologist in Detroit.
‘All of us were born in the same hospital, all of our birth certificates show Dr Peven as our OBGYN, not our father,’ Hall said of her siblings.
Jaime Hall, 61, (right) is one of six siblings who traced their paternal DNA to Dr Philip Peven, 104, (left) via a 23andMe kit decades after he treated each of their mothers
The 61-year-old said the parents who raised her, both of whom are now deceased, went to Peven for help conceiving in the early 50s when he worked at Grace Hospital.
She said her parents believed that her biological father was a family friend who gave them a sperm sample and never found out that Peven actually used his own.
Her mother, Joyce, gave birth to Hall’s older sister, Lynn, and in 1959 to Jaime. They were both delivered by Peven – but only one, was biologically related to him.
Hall said it wasn’t until 2008 that she started questioning who her biological father was after a stepsister told her and Lynn that the man who raised them was not their real father.
She began investigating in 2017 and in 2019, she traced her family tree using Ancestry.com and 23andMe.
She went on to uncover her links to Peven when one of his grandsons came up as a half nephew sharing 12.3 percent of DNA with her.
‘That served as the final, undeniable proof. I share more DNA with Dr Peven’s grandson than my sister Lynn’s daughter,’ Hall told the Sun.
Hall said when she first reached out to Peven about the DNA test results in December 2019 he admitted to inseminating her mother – and hundreds of other women – when he worked as a sperm donor in the late 40s and in his medical practice as a obstetrician/gynecologist
Hall is pictured with the parents who raised her in the 1960s. She said her parents never learned that Peven was her actual biological father before their deaths
The DNA test also led her to a half-sister, with whom she teamed up to meet Peven in person at his home in Southfield, Michigan.
‘We just turned up at his door and walked right in there,’ she said. ‘He was all hunched and had a walker, he said he has neuropathy, but his brain was very sharp.
‘Initially we just said: “You knew our parents, you delivered us” and he invited us in and we got talking.
‘I showed him a picture of my parents and he zoomed in on the baby, me.
Both Hall and her sister Lynn were delivered by Peven when he treated their mother. Their crib tabs are shown above
‘He sat on a chair and we both sat on the floor at his feet, like his two little daughters.’
It was then that Peven proudly confirmed he was their father and explained how it happened, Hall said.
She said the doctor described how he would inseminate his patients with a fresh sperm sample – either his own or one of his doctors’ – using a pipette.
‘He said: “I was a pioneer you know, I was the first to ever be doing anything like this,”‘ Hall recalled.
‘We said: “You not only delivered us… we want to thank you for fathering us. Without you we wouldn’t be here.”‘
She said he then asked how they found him and they explained the DNA testing.
‘He told us that he was not the only doctor at the hospital who was donating sperm – there was a group of doctors and between them they fathered many children,’ Hall told the Sun. ‘He said he had been donating sperm since 1947, since he was doing research in Chicago.’
Hall’s sister, Lynn, also told the news site that she did similar DNA tests and found that her father was one of Peven’s resident doctors.
She has been matched to half siblings who she has started reaching out to.
Hall (pictured with her husband) said she is grateful to Peven for giving her life even though she believes his methods were ‘deceiving’
While the revelations about their true fathers were shocking, both Hall and Lynn both view the situation through a positive lens as a whole.
‘These women, my mother included, came to him desperate, and he gave them something that they all wanted,’ Hall told the Sun.
‘There wasn’t the same regulation then as there is now. I really think he was trying to help people and without him I wouldn’t be alive today.’
However, the sisters acknowledged that Peven’s practices were ‘deceiving’.
‘I think people have the right to find out the truth – not everyone wants to know the truth, but if they choose to pursue it, they should be allowed to know,’ Hall said.
‘There are huge health and ethical implications for knowing who your real father is.’
She added: ‘You have to realize that Dr Peven was practicing in a small, close-knit community – people could have married relatives without knowing. There is a very high likelihood of certain diseases that run in Ashkenazi heritage.’
Lynn echoed Hall’s comments, saying she is grateful to Peven for giving her life even though she disagrees with how he went about it.
‘Without Dr Peven and his fertility clinic and everything that they did, I would not be here,’ Lynn said.
‘So consequently, I have nothing but gratitude to them for everything that happened. I cannot be angry or resentful in any way for that.
‘But do I think that all of the ways that Dr Peven did what he did were ethical? No, absolutely not.
‘The fact that he didn’t tell women that he was using his own sperm sample is not right. That would be profoundly unethical by today’s standards.’
Peven is credited with delivering around 9,000 babies during his 40-year career in Detroit, according to a 2017 article from the University of Michigan. He graduated from the university’s medical school in 1941.
He was completing his medical training at the Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago when the US went to war in December 1941.
Peven is the last surviving member of the Class of 1941, and, is the oldest U-M Medical School alumnus.
He retired in 1987 at the age of 70.