Couple angry wrong donor sperm used at Ottawa clinic
Dr. Norman Barwin named in class-action lawsuit
A lesbian Toronto couple who conceived a child with the help of an Ottawa fertility specialist is angry and saddened after DNA testing proved their daughter was not conceived from the anonymous donor they chose.
The class action, which has yet to be certified by a judge, initially claimed Barwin had inseminated two women with his own sperm, but has been amended to include more complainants, according to a news release from the law firm issued Thursday.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.
"I feel cheated and I feel like my wife was assaulted because there really was no consent there," said the Toronto woman whose partner gave birth to a daughter in 2005. The CBC is not identifying the names of the couple and their child in order to protect their privacy.
The Toronto couple, one of the dozens of claimants in the lawsuit, have confirmed through DNA testing that Barwin is not the biological father of their 13-year old daughter, but they don't know who is.
The two women are concerned because they had a fairly complete medical history of the anonymous donor they selected at Barwin's Broadview Fertility Clinic in Ottawa and now they know nothing about the man whose sperm was used.
DNA testing of their second daughter, born in 2008, proved she is a match to her anonymous donor. That insemination was also performed by Barwin.
'They feel violated'
The Toronto couple first became suspicious about their daughter's paternity due to her height.
At 13, she's five-foot-seven-inches tall and both the anonymous donor and her mother are 2 inches shorter.
When news reports surfaced two years ago about Barwin's clinic, the couple obtained a sample from the company that provided the original anonymous sperm to see if it matched their daughter's DNA.
The results proved there was no match.
Peter Cronyn, a lawyer with the Ottawa law firm handling the suit, acknowledges the distress couples like the one in Toronto are facing.
"They were looking to a professional to do this procedure and they feel violated," Cronyn said.
Searching for the right donor
Cronyn said his firm has consulted with geneticists and DNA laboratories to establish a "framework" for couples to get answers on paternity and adds that testing is part of the lawsuit.
The couple said they have been told that Barwin's medical records are "a mess" and it's not possible to find out through them who the donor was.
The Toronto woman said she hopes the lawsuit will result in a database being built with DNA profiles from the company which provided sperm samples to Barwin, so they can be cross-referenced with the women who were inseminated and gave birth.
The couple have told their eldest daughter that "mistakes" were made with the doctor who helped conceive her after she questioned them why she had to deposit her saliva into a sample vial.
The couple fears if DNA testing is able to identify the biological father of their daughter, he may want contact with her and turn to the courts to get access.
"I'm scared for my family that we've kind of opened this door — you can't un-know what you know," the woman said.