Canadian Fertility Doctor Who Inseminated His Sperm on IVF Patients To Pay $10.7 Million

Photo: (Photo : Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)

A landmark case involving a fertility doctor who inseminated his sperm on his IVF patients has progressed into a $10.7 million payout after a judge in an Ontario court certified the lawsuit.

Couple Dan and Davina Dixon filed the case against their fertility doctor, Norman Barwin, in 2016, after years of searching for justice. The Dixon couple learned that the baby girl they conceived in 1990, through Barwin's help, was the fertility doctor's biological child.

In an interview with CBC Radio, Davina said plenty of clues about their daughter, Rebecca's, real paternity. For one thing, she had brown eyes when both of her parents had blue eyes. Rebecca also developed celiac disease, a hereditary condition that none of her parents had.

After the Dixons filed the case, at least 200 victims joined forces to launch a class-action lawsuit against Barwin as well. Now 82 years old, the fertility doctor's lawyers said he's not guilty of any wrongdoing despite agreeing to the multi-million payout.

Comparing DNAs

Dan and Davina had suspicions about Rebecca's paternity early on because of information they read online about parents with blue eyes who cannot have a baby with brown eyes. They also saw the glaring differences in Rebecca's physical features.

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Davina said that she grew concerned and decided to get a DNA test for Dan and Rebecca. The test results showed that the father and daughter's DNA had a zero percent match.

When Rebecca developed celiac disease, the Dixons asked Barwin to take a DNA test. The fertility doctor refused to comply, so Davina turned to one of the patients, who just learned at 25 years old that her biological father was Barwin. The 25-year-old and Rebecca's DNA matched, which left Davina in shock.

According to reports, the biological siblings also found another girl, Kat Palmer, whose parents sought Barwin's help for IVF. The Palmers asked for an anonymous donor with traits and characteristics that were important to them, but Barwin used his sperm on Kat's mother, Janet.

Another victim said that she thought all along that the fertility doctor used her husband's sperm when they had IVF. She eventually found out that all of their children have no biological link to their dad.

Some 226 IVF victims joined the class action, where 17 have been determined as Barwin's children through DNA testing.

Disgraced and Stripped of License

In 2013, Barwin admitted that he made the mistake of inseminating the wrong sperm to four women. He did not inform his patients, so they made the discoveries on their own several years later.

The following year, Barwin gave up his medical license, but the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario said he was an incompetent fertility doctor whose mistakes will impact generations of family. The college fined Barwin nearly $9,000 and asked him to set up a DNA database for families who may need to identify paternity.

Meanwhile, the judge has yet to sign the $10.7 million settlement. If it's approved, every victim in this lawsuit may receive around $39,000 in damages.

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