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Canada IVF doctor loses licence for using wrong sperm including his own

Norman Barwin, 80, also faces class action civil case and is believed to have wrongly inseminated 13 women

At the height of his 41-year medical career the Canadian fertility specialist Norman Barwin was known as the baby god but the 80-year old has been stripped of his medical licence for repeatedly using the wrong sperm including his own to impregnate his patients.

Barwin was deemed incompetent by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, which described the former doctors behaviour as beyond reprehensible and said the damage he caused will last for generations.

Barwin did not notify his patients of the errors, leaving them to discover years later the truth about their childrens paternity.

It is the most egregious violation of a patients trust. These patients came to Dr Barwin and trusted him to help them start a family, said Carolyn Silver, the Colleges senior counsel.

Barwin pleaded no contest and did not attend Tuesdays disciplinary hearing in Toronto.

The disgraced former doctor also faces a class action which alleges he is the biological father of at least 11 children conceived in his clinic. He is accused of using the wrong sperm on 50 to 100 women, with the earliest complaints reaching as far back as 1978.

Frances Shapiro Munn, a lawyer on the case, welcomed the medical communitys acknowledgment of the victims ordeal. She noted that the impact of his conduct would ripple through their lives for a long time.

The College said it started its own investigation of Barwin because of the media coverage surrounding the civil case. It has since found evidence that Barwin fathered at least seven children and wrongly inseminated 13 women.

Barwin was previously suspended by the College in 2013 after admitting to inseminating four women using the wrong sperm. He resigned his medical licence in 2014 after other cases came to light. On Tuesday, the College revoked his licence completely and ordered him to pay costs totalling C$10,370 (US$8,000).

In the Colleges summary of its judgment, it described a dozen cases in which women were impregnated with the wrong sperm. In one case, one of the resulting children found out through an online DNA registry and then further medical DNA testing that Barwin is her biological father.

Another of the adult children read a victim impact statement at the hearing. In 2015, Rebecca Dixon, then 25, underwent blood testing for celiac disease, a typically hereditary illness neither of her parents suffered. Through that testing she and her parents found out she had no genetic link to the man she believed to be her father.

In her victim impact statement, Dixon said in that moment, my life changed forever.

Dr Edward Hughes, who was retained as an expert witness by the college, suggested that Barwins defence that improper cleaning of a sperm counter he tested with his own semen must have led to mistaken insemination was implausible.

This is a tragic situation, in which a sea of avoidable harm was done, wrote Hughes.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/26/norman-barwin-canada-ivf-doctor-loses-licence-wrong-sperm

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