Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: DNA testing confirms that Doctor Norman Barwin, is the biological father of at least 11 children whose parents went to him for fertility treatment, according to lawyers who are working on a class-action lawsuit against the high-profile Ottawa fertility doctor.
“In some cases, the intention was for Dr. Barwin to use the s***m of the male of the couple. In others, a specific anonymous s***m donor had been selected. Instead, it turns out that Dr. Barwin himself is the biological father,” Lawyers Peter Cronyn and Shapiro Munn of Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP, said in a release, Thursday.
The attorneys said they have been in contact with more than 150 people who have allegedly been “adversely affected” by Barwin’s fertility practice as far back as 1978
In addition, the lawyers said they have become aware of more than 50 people whose parents received fertility treatment from the physician, Barwin, and whose biological fathers are unknown. Sixteen of them were to be conceived using their father’s s***m, but are not a biological match to their father. The lawyers said an additional 35 were to be conceived using anonymous donor s***m and may not be a biological match with the intended donor. Their biological fathers are also unknown.
Numerous men who stored s***m at Barwin’s clinic have also contacted the law firm with concerns. They are worried their s***m may have been used to inseminate other women.
Cronyn said the case is the only one he knows of in Canada in which a physician has allegedly inseminated fertility clients with his own s***m. He said he would not be surprised if more people come forward.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.
The lawyers said they are amending the statement of claim previously filed to include the new information. Once it is certified as a class action suit, the next step will be to establish a process for claims to be adjudicated and resolved, they said.
As part of the resolution process, they said, they are working on a way to help people who were conceived with unknown s***m to find out who their biological fathers are and get in touch with half-siblings. They said they want to be sure those conceived with Barwin’s s***m can collect health information they may need.
Among them is Kat Palmer, 26, whose parents sought treatment from Barwin. He acknowledged in 2015 that he was her biological father based on a paternity test.
Cronyn said the law firm is working with a geneticist to help find a resolution for those whose biological fathers are unknown.
During his career, the South African-born physician and medical professor was popular and helped thousands of patients conceive children. He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1997 for having a “profound impact on both the biological and psycho-social aspects of women’s reproductive health.” He resigned from the Order of Canada in 2013.
As far back as 1995, he was sued by former patients for using the wrong s***m. He was found guilty of professional misconduct by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario in 2013.
He was hired in 1973 as director of the Ottawa General Hospital’s high-risk pregnancy unit and co-director of its fertility unit. He worked at the hospital — now known as The Ottawa Hospital’s General campus — until 1984 when he set up a private practice at the Broadview Fertility Clinic.
Dr. Norman Barwin’s lawyer is Karen Hamway.