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Fertility doctor accused of substituting own sperm for patient's husband's

22 November 2009
Appeared in BioNews 535

A fertility doctor based in Greenwich, Connecticut, has been allowed to practise for seven years after being found guilty of using the wrong man's sperm to fertilise one of his IVF patient's eggs and further accused by one of his former patients of substituting his own sperm for her husband's in the conception of their two twin girls. The case was drawn to a close in 2005, when the clinician in question was forced to pay a $10,000 fine, but had been kept a secret until the information was disclosed earlier this week following a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Greenwich Time newspaper.

Information in the case file revealed that the accused, a Dr Ben D. Ramaley, had not been asked to take a DNA test at the time to rule out himself as the sperm donor, but that he had been fined $10,000 by the state and then allowed to continue practising.

The woman had conceived via intrauterine insemination (IUI) at Brookside Greenwich Ob-Gyn Associates, Dr Ramaley's private fertility clinic. The couple's suspicions were raised when the twins were born with uncharacteristically fair skin, even though the woman's husband is black. A paternity test taken by the woman's husband at the time confirmed that he was not the twin's biological father.

The state Department of Public Health carried out an investigation into the case, but did not insist on Dr Ramaley taking a paternity test, evidence which would otherwise have confirmed whether or not he was the twin's biological father. There would only have been a 0.01 per cent chance of the test being wrong.

The Greenwich Time newspaper quoted the lawsuit as saying: 'Upon information and belief, Dr Roe intentionally inserted his own sperm into (the patient), causing (the patient) to become pregnant and give birth to children biologically fathered by Dr Roe'. Throughout the lawsuit, Dr Ramaley is referred to as Dr Roe.

But before the case went to trial, the lawsuit was withdrawn, the case settled and a confidentiality agreement signed preventing anyone involved in the case from disclosing information about it.

When questioned, the DPH said that they did not have the authority to request a paternity test from Dr Ramaley. But Health law and DNA experts disagree with this, the Greenwich Time reports.

'The state does have the authority to order a medical examination and that would include a DNA test (of Ramaley),' Professor W. John Thomas, the head of the Health Law Department at Quinnipiac University School of Law told the Greenwich Time.

The newspaper backed up this claim by quoting the state statute (reference '20-13e (b)'): 'the Department of Public Health may order the physician to submit to a physical or mental examination... The department may seek the advice of established medical organizations or licensed health professionals in determining the nature and scope of any diagnostic examinations.'

The statute allegedly says that a Superior Court judge also has the authority to demand a medical test.

Both Dr Ramaley and the DPH declined to comment on the case when invited to do so by Greenwich Time reporters.

CBS 2 seeking patients of Dr Ben D. Ramaley |  12 November 2009
Dr Ben D. Ramaley – are you his patient? |  12 November 2009
Dr. 'Jerk'-yl sperm probe
New York Post |  13 November 2009
Fertility doctor 'substitutes his own sperm'
The Daily Telegraph |  13 November 2009
Greenwich doctor uses wrong man's sperm to produce twins
Greenwich Time |  12 November 2009
Greenwich fertility doctor's case puts spotlight on medical discipline
Greenwich Time |  15 November 2009
N.Y. bans Conn. doctor over fertility mistake |  13 November 2009
Wrong man's sperm produces twins — and a shocking accusation
Chron |  12 November 2009
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