A Canadian fertility doctor with a long history of patients complaining of being impregnated with the wrong sperm has now been called “incompetent” by his former employer, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario—which, given the latest allegations, seems like a gross understatement at best.
Since the 1970s, Dr. Norman Barwin has been accused of using sperm from unintended donors on “dozens” of his patients who were looking to conceive, according to NBC News—but now, he has also been accused of impregnating “at least 11 women” with his own sperm.
On Thursday, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario said in a statement that this Barwin:
“committed an act of professional misconduct in that he failed to maintain the standard of practice of the profession” and “engaged in acts or omissions” that “would reasonably be regarded by members as disgraceful, dishonorable or unprofessional,” the college said Thursday. “The Discipline Committee also found that Dr. Barwin is incompetent.”
It’s unclear exactly what this statement will do; Barwin previously worked at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and resigned in 2014 after several patients complained he’d used sperm from unintended donors to help them conceive.
Barwin’s explanation for allegedly impregnating 11 women with his own sperm without their knowledge is that he once used his own semen to “calibrat[e] an automatic sperm counter” and it somehow contaminated other samples. But an OB-GYN from the College found this highly unlikely (emphasis mine):
“For a single pregnancy to have occurred in these ways would have been remarkable,” [Dr. Edward G. Hughes] said. “For eleven pregnancies to have been sired in this way over two or more decades is neither statistically plausible nor believable.”
The consequences of this man’s actions are multitude: the daughter of a patient went hunting for more clues about her biological father and found out a second cousin of hers is also related to Barwin. The daughter of another patient developed the genetic condition celiac disease, even though her mother and her mother’s husband don’t have it. And the full range of his alleged wrongdoing is not known: NBC News also reports that in 2016, Barwin was “accused in a ... lawsuit of giving the wrong sperm to an additional 50 to 100 women who later gave birth.”