Fertility Doctor Loses Licence For Using His Own Sperm On Patients
A family fertility doctor from Canada had his medical licence revoked after being accused of inseminating some of his patients with his own sperm.
80-year-old Bernard Norman Barwin has not practised since 2014 but on Tuesday (June 25) a discipline committee of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario determined he committed professional misconduct and revoked his medical licence, effective immediately.
The regulator launched an investigation into allegations against Barwin in 2016, with claims dating as far back as the 1970s and including patients from at least two fertility clinics in Ontario, BBC News report.
Allegations said 50 to 100 children were conceived after their mothers were given the wrong semen from Barwin and 11 were genetically matched to the fertility doctor.
According to City News, the doctor was suspended for two months in 2013 after patients complained their children did not have their fathers’ DNA as a result of the doctor mixing up sperm. He reportedly then voluntarily resigned his licence in 2014 after another former patient made a similar complaint.
A statement of facts read before the committee on Tuesday documented 13 cases where Barwin had either used his own or unknown sperm to impregnate his patients. The doctor did not appear before the disciplinary panel but, through his lawyer, pleaded no contest to inseminating women with the wrong sperm.
Disciplinary committee chair Dr. Steven Bodley addressed Barwin through his lawyer, saying:
Your actions have been beyond reprehensible. Your patients represent a group who were vulnerable and who placed themselves and their families completely in your trust.
You betrayed that trust and by your actions deeply affected individuals and their families and caused irreparable damage that will span generations.
A lawyer for Ontario’s medical regulator reportedly said Barwin’s shocking actions traumatised entire families, leaving them forever altered.
Lawyer Carolyn Silver told the disciplinary committee:
There is no precedent for the case you have before you. Dr. Barwin’s patients and their families were the unsuspecting victims of his incomprehensible deception.
28-year-old Rebecca Dixon discovered Barwin was her biological father three years ago after she was diagnosed with coeliac disease, a hereditary condition neither of her parents shares. A DNA test confirmed the doctor was her father, CBC report.
She said the news made her feel ashamed and ‘contaminated’ and strained her family.
As well as revoking his licence, the discipline committee ordered Barwin to pay a fine of $10,730 within 30 days.
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