More than four decades after Durban gyneacologist Norman Walker committed suicide, his many offspring are still discovering the truth about a man who might have sired as many as 300 children.
One of the latest to learn of this was Fiona Darroch, a South African who now lives in Australia. Walker had been her godfather and her mother’s gynecologist.
She only discovered the truth when she came across an odd Amazon review by a woman from Ireland. At the time she had been looking for books written by her godfather Walker.
The Irish woman, Darroch told SBS Insight in an exclusive interview, had been trying to find information on Walker. She had written: ‘Dr Walker was my biological father and sperm donor.’
Darroch, at the time, didn’t know she was conceived via a sperm donor. She began sharing information with the woman in Ireland. The more she learnt, the more she wondered.
Then she saw a photograph of Walker on his driver’s licence, she instantly realised that he was the splitting image of her daughter. She realised that she had to confront her mother.
Her mother came clean and said she had used a sperm donor, and Walker was her gynecologist. He had told her at the time that the donated sperm came from medical students.
Darroch was devastated. It was like losing my own father, who raised me all over again,” she told SBS Insight. Her legal father had died years prior.
Over the years the truth about Walker has slowly emerged through genetic testing and from mothers revealing that the gynaecologist was their father.
Besides Darroch, Cassandra Hallberg and her brother Greg discovered that Walker was their father. In Darroch’s case, her suspicions were finally confirmed in 2017 when her eldest daughter did a 23andMe DNA test.
This test revealed that Darroch had siblings from the US, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, South Africa and Australia. They believe that there might be between 200 to 300 half siblings.
Darroch’s youngest daughter also discovered that she even had an uncle who is 15 years younger than her mother, which is an indication that Walker was using his sperm to impregnate women a decade and a half after her mother was born.
The group are calling themselves “Tony’s babies”. Walker committed suicide in 1977, at the age of 62. This after his wife died of cancer. Darroch believes that Walker probably didn’t think his secret would get out.
“I think his ethics were really shonky (sic). I understand that at that time they had no idea that DNA was going to be so popular and it would be so easy to track down your family tree,” she said.