A fertility doctor in Canada opted to get generous with his sperm in his line of work, a decision that has cost him his lifetime career. 80-year-old Bernand Norman Barwin has been accused of using his own sperm to inseminate patients over several decades. In a lawsuit that has cost him his medical license, it is alleged that he used the wrong sperm in 50 to 100 births, including 11 cases in which he used his own.
In 2014 he lost his medical license for artificially inseminating three women with the wrong sperm, but blamed it on simple errors according to the statement of facts released by The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. His latest intentional medical error was exposed when a woman who was diagnosed with a genetic condition that did not fall in his family tree became suspicious. The woman said she felt contaminated when she learnt that Dr Barwin was her biological father.
“At that moment, my life changed forever. For a while, I felt dissociated with my own face, as if the person looking at back at me in the mirror wasn’t fully me anymore. My mum had to work through the fact that something had happened to her body without her knowing, or giving permission,” she told the hearing.
Dr Barwin did not appear before the disciplinary panel from the college and his lawyer pleaded no contest to the statement of facts on his behalf. An investigation into allegations against him in 2016 was launched by the regulator and claims against the physician dated back into the 1970s included patients from at least two fertility clinics in Ontario.
On behalf of the regulatory body’s disciplinary panel in Toronto, Dr Steven Bodley said it was “unfortunate” the only sanction they had the power to impose was to revoke Dr Barwin’s licence and issue a scathing public reprimand and a fine.
“You betrayed the trust of your patients and by your actions deeply affected individuals and their families and caused irreparable damage that will span generations,” he said.