A woman has launched legal action against a fertility specialist after finding out her dad was not her biological father.
Rebecca Dixon, who lives in Canada, was conceived after fertility treatment at a clinic in Ottawa. Her mother Davina had been artificially inseminated with sperm they believed belonged to her husband Daniel but a paternity test has now revealed he is not Rebecca’s father.
Rebecca, who is now 26, first became suspicious because she has brown eyes and an olive-skinned complexion, while her parents are fair with blue eyes. She also suffers from coeliac disease, an autoimmune condition which often runs in families, but none of her other relatives were affected by it.
Initially, the family decided to do a blood test, which revealed Rebecca was O-positive, while Daniel was type AB. The Dixons then went on to do a DNA test, which revealed there was no chance Daniel was Rebecca’s biological father.
In an interview with the Ottawa Citizen, Rebecca said: “It was a complete shock. There’s a sense of injustice, there’s a sense of anger on behalf of my parents who do feel violated and betrayed.”
The Dixon family now believe the sperm used during the fertility procedure belonged to their doctor, Norman Barwin, who carried out the artificial insemination at the Broadview Fertility Clinic in 1989.
DNA test reveals half-sister
They claim that a sibling DNA test has revealed that Rebecca is the half-sister of a woman called Kat Palmer, who was conceived using an anonymous sperm donor at the same fertility clinic. Kat, who is from Vancouver, had asked Dr Barwin for a DNA test last year and she claims he then confirmed that he was her biological father.
Dr Barwin had allegedly told Kat that he must have inseminated her mother with his sperm by accident as he had been using his own semen to test out a piece of equipment.
The Dixon family is now suing Dr Barwin for punitive damages.
Their lawsuit claims: “The defendant’s reckless and wanton conduct, including the cavalier use of his own sperm in his insemination procedures, demonstrated a reprehensible disregard for the health, safety, and rights of the plaintiffs.”
Dr Barwin is no longer practicing as a doctor after he was found guilty of professional misconduct when he artificially inseminated three women with the wrong sperm in 2013.
His lawyer Karen Hamway has said her client’s defence statement will be filed in due course.
Although mix-ups during fertility treatments are extremely rare, there is always the possibility that mistakes could happen.
AlphaBiolabs offers DNA testing to people who have used fertility treatments including IVF, surrogacy and artificial insemination. It is very unlikely that the sperm or egg from another person would be used during a procedure but testing can take away any potential doubts and give parents peace of mind.
Both peace of mind maternity and paternity tests can be simply ordered online. Customers will then receive a sample collection kit which they return to our accredited UK-based laboratory, which is the only one in the country to offer 24 marker paternity testing.
We also offer legal DNA tests for people who need to use the results as evidence in court proceedings or for official purposes.