A couple of recent stories about ALI-related scandals in the news that I thought I'd pass along -- as well as a story tangentially related to my own experiences...!
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During my short-lived pregnancy in 1998, my ob-gyn's office provided me with a pamphlet about banking my baby's cord blood (for a fee, of course...!). Cord blood contains stem cells that might be used years later to treat some medical conditions, including leukemia.
I never got far along enough in my pregnancy to make a decision about banking her cord blood, but I thought about that when I saw a recent news story on CBC about a scandal involving the Cord Blood Bank of Canada (CBBC). Clients of the CBBC allege in a lawsuit that the CBBC did not notify them after all the samples stored by the business were destroyed nearly three years ago, in October 2018 (!) ...and not only that, they continued to charge those clients the annual storage fee!
The case is still before the courts.
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This story has been in the news here before (and there have been similar cases in other countries): an Ottawa fertility doctor (Norman Barwin) used the wrong sperm (including his own) in the conception of at least 100 children. A class action lawsuit launched in 2016 has grown to 226 members, including former patients and children conceived through artificial insemination -- 17 of whom have discovered Barwin is their biological father through DNA.
In a recent development, Barwin has agreed to a settlement of more than $13 million, which will include $75,000 to set up and operate a DNA database that will help donor-conceived children to identify their biological fathers and half-siblings. The doctor was stripped of his medical license and fined more than $10,000 in 2019.
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Thinking about these stories and about ethical lapses in fertility treatment had me thinking about a close call in my own pregnancy/loss/infertility journey. I don't think I've ever told this story on my blog before: my own RE was subjected to disciplinary action for professional misconduct by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario in 2006, five years after I left his practice (and treatment). In 2001 -- around the same time I left fertility treatment altogether -- he began an affair with his receptionist/office assistant (!). The affair ended, but after that, she became an anonymous egg donor in his practice, twice. Donors and recipients are not supposed to know each others' identities, but because of her position at the office, she had access to the recipients' files and claimed to know the identity of at least one of the recipients of her eggs. She left the practice in 2003.
The RE admitted to the facts of the case. He was fined $2,500, received a three-month suspension of his license and was required to complete an ethics course.
There's probably more to the story that hasn't been made public, but this is essentially what appears on the public record. The background story and the judgment appears in his CPSO listing (I have a PDF copy in my own files), and if you go WAY back on some Canadian infertility message boards, you'll find some chatter about the matter -- although the glowing reviews he continues to receive on some sites makes me suspect that few people have actually looked up his CPSO listing...! (I suppose some have, but are so desperate to have a baby that they are willing to overlook it...??)
He did bring up the subject of using donor eggs with me a couple of times. I was never really interested -- and I shudder to think how close I might have come to getting mixed up in this situation...!
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A reminder that Pamela at Silent Sorority is a co-founder of the site ReproTech Truths, dedicated to countering the disproportionate emphasis on IVF success stories with untold stories that will help future generations understand the associated risks and costs of fertility treatment and make better, more informed decisions. They welcome your stories!