July 7, 2022

Is this the worst IVF scandal ever?

Brazil’s best-known and most-successful IVF doctor is on the run from police after being convicted of sexually assaulting or raping 39 female patients between 1995 and 2008. Roger Abdelmassih, 67, was sentenced to 278 years in prison, but fled – apparently to Lebanon – while awaiting appeal.

Brazil’s best-known and most-successful IVF
doctor is on the run from police after  being convicted of sexually assaulting or raping 39 female
patients between 1995 and 2008. Roger Abdelmassih, 67, was sentenced to 278
years in prison, but fled – apparently to Lebanon – while awaiting appeal.

Abdelmassih helped the
soccer legend Pele father a child and his website
describes him as “internationally renowned”. He even claims to have had a 50%
success rate in helping women under 35 become pregnant. But now an investigation by the Brazilian news magazine Epoca
suggests that the babies that these couples took home may not be their
biological children. DNA tests have already proved that three of the children
are not related to one of the spouses.

Epoca tells the story of a couple who approached Abdelmassih in 1993. After
IVF treatment the wife became pregnant. The husband, however, had misgivings
and told the doctor that he wanted a DNA test after birth. Abdelmassih became
enraged and gave the woman abortion pills. However, the pregnancy went to term
and twins were born. A DNA test confirmed that they were not the children of
the father. Abdelmassih made an out-of-court settlement for US$600,000. The
couple later split up.

The magazine believes that the use of gametes unrelated to the couple
could explain Adbelmassih’s extraordinary success rate, which is about 50%
higher than other clinics in South America. Since he has treated 8,000 couples, authorities fear that
many of the spouses may not be related to their children. ~ London Telegraph, May 16

Michael Cook
IVF