Although Dr. Bernard Norman Barwin admitted to committing professional misconduct before the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s Discipline Committee in 2013, the committee formally reprimanded Barwin this week, stating that he “committed an act of professional misconduct in that he failed to maintain the standard of the profession” and “engaged in acts or omissions” that “would reasonably be regarded by members as disgraceful, dishonorable or unprofessional.”
The committee also deemed Barwin “incompetent.” In addition, Barwin’s medical license was revoked earlier this year, even though he had already resigned from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario in 2014. Revocation of his license will notify other medical regulators of his malpractices. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $10,370 earlier this year.
According to facts obtained by the committee, more than a dozen patients said they suffered “irreparable harm” because of Barwin’s actions. Barwin did not attend the hearing and pleaded no contest to the allegations, HuffPost reported.
“Dr. Barwin’s patients and their families were the unsuspecting victims of his incomprehensible deception,” Carolyn Silver, a lawyer for the regulator, told the committee.
During his time working at the Ottawa General Hospital and at an Ottawa clinic beginning in the 1970s, Barwin inseminated at least 11 women with his own sperm and inseminated dozens more with sperm that wasn’t from the intended donor.
In 2015, the unidentified daughter of a patient who had used donor sperm started looking into her genealogy. She eventually found that one of her second cousins was Barwin’s relative. Barwin later confirmed to the woman that he was her father through DNA testing, but he claimed that “the only occasion he had used his own semen was when he was calibrating an automatic sperm counter,” and said that some of his sperm might have gotten mixed up with the donor sperm, NBC News reported.
A patient who gave birth to a daughter in 1990 later found out that her daughter had celiac disease, which is genetically inherited. She decided to examine the issue further, because neither she nor her husband have the disease. She later found she had been impregnated with Barwin’s sperm instead of her husband’s.
Another patient of Barwin’s also found that while her children were related to each other, they were not related to her husband, because her husband’s sperm was not used during the insemination process.
"Whether Dr. Barwin’s actions were accidental or willful, the suffering he has caused remains deep and wide," said Dr. Edward G. Hughes, an OB-GYN and member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
"For 51 children to have been born with incorrect sperm heritage, as many as 100 [patients] may have received the wrong sperm during their treatment," he added.
"Offspring are living an avoidable genetic disconnection from their fathers and have no access to their genetic heritage," Hughes continued. "The children whom Dr. Barwin fathered himself are burdened in these and other even more profound ways. They know that their own DNA and that of their children and beyond will always be linked to him and his actions."
Barwin’s lawyer, Karen A. Hamway, had no comment on his behalf.