Rise of Use of Ancestry.com, 23 and Me Home DNA Kits Revealing Widespread ObGyn/Fertility Doctor Abuses; Leading IVF Attorney Adam Wolf Says Regulation Needed to “Rein in a Profession Run Amuck”
WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Multiple families victimized by “fertility fraud” took action today by filing cases against doctors in California and Virginia/West Virginia. The doctors are alleged to have inserted their own sperm into their patients, contrary to the doctors’ representations and their patients’ wishes.
The cases being filed today are the tip of the iceberg in hundreds of fertility fraud cases that will emerge across the U.S. thanks to home DNA test kits, according to Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway’s Adam Wolf, the leading U.S. lawyer handling fertility, IVF, and related genetic material lawsuits.
Wolf, who has been in the forefront of pushing for tougher regulation of IVF clinics and other medical facilities handling genetic material, said that abuses by the rapidly growing number of medical professionals within the IVF/fertility industry will not stop until the U.S. imposes tighter regulation.
In one case involving a doctor still licensed to practice medicine in Virginia/West Virginia, a San Francisco area woman learned via home DNA testing that both of her children were the result of her fertility doctor, Dr. Michael S. Kiken, secretly utilizing his own sperm in her fertility treatments. Despite Kiken’s assurances, the sperm was from neither a healthy nor anonymous donor. Rather, the Livermore, CA mother learned that her daughter inherited from Kiken a serious disease, Tay Sachs, which can be passed on to future generations. Kiken holds medical licenses in numerous states and has practiced in California, Pittsburgh, the greater Washington, D.C. area, Richmond, VA, Lynchburg, VA, and Martinsburg, WV.
The second lawsuit involves Dr. Phillip Milgram, who has a checkered history of practice in California, New York, and Las Vegas. A San Diego woman and her then-husband sought out the help of Milgram in 1988 for artificial insemination, which resulted in the birth of their son. Although Milgram told his then-patient that he would use the sperm of a healthy and anonymous sperm donor, he instead injected his own sperm into her.
Milgram later was stripped of his medical license in California for drug-related conduct. He faced accusations of practicing medicine while intoxicated, failing to maintain records, and a host of other offenses. He later regained his license and now practices what he calls “addiction medicine” in the San Diego area and is an attending physician at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla.
In the last six years, attorney Adam Wolf has handled hundreds of cases regarding IVF/genetic material that have involved well over 1,000 victims. In 2019, Wolf spearheaded the Peiffer Wolf push for national legislation to rein in the abuses of IVF and fertility clinics.
Wolf said: “The actions of these doctors are horrific. The gross misconduct committed by these doctors is a profoundly intimate betrayal. The United States is on the brink of uncovering thousands of fertility fraud cases, in which IVF/Ob Gyn doctors have abused their position of trust and authority by secretly using their own sperm in carrying out fertility treatments. We have to decide as a nation that the Wild West days for the IVF/fertility industry are over. That is why we are renewing the call today for federal regulation to rein in an industry run amuck.”
Katie Richards is the San Francisco-area mother in the case against Dr. Kiken, who inseminated her with his own sperm twice, resulting in her two children. She said: “Dr. Kiken used his own sperm. It’s sickening. Now, I have to live knowing that he violated me, and that my children – whom I love dearly – are a result of his disgusting conduct. All of our memories, and all of the memories that we have yet to make are forever tainted.”
Dallas resident Julie Druyor is the daughter of Katie Richards. She said: “I used to look in the mirror and recognize who was looking back at me. Now, sometimes I look in the mirror and don’t even recognize myself. Sometimes, I see ‘him.’ Sometimes, I see the man who violated my mother’s trust and turned our worlds upside down. I’m a product of my mother’s abuser.”
Bev Willhelm, of San Diego, is the mother in the case against Dr. Milgram, who used his own sperm to inseminate her. She said: “Instead of using the sperm of an anonymous donor and a physically and mentally healthy individual, as he promised, Dr. Milgram used the sperm of a drug addict who had serious mental health issues … his own sperm.”
Jimmy Mallas, Jr., also of San Diego, is the son of Beverly Willhelm. He said: “Who was looking out for my mother? Who is looking out for all of the mothers? Not only do I want answers to these questions, but most of all, I want justice for my mother and my family. And, I want to expose anyone else out there who also did this, and who is now praying that more people like me don’t take a home DNA test.”
Most of the individuals who are the product of fertility fraud will be 30-45 years old, reflecting the advent of inexpensive and widely available home DNA testing kits, such as Ancestry.com and 23andMe, which are often purchased as holiday presents. Wolf noted that families across America may be just a Christmas gift away from learning about a dark and unexpected part of their genetic past.
In August 2019, Peiffer Wolf published The Fertility Center Regulation Crisis in the U.S., a report calling on Congress to impose a system of tight and highly transparent IVF clinic oversight. In addition to identifying several glaring weaknesses and the general lack of regulatory oversight of the IVF/fertility centers in the U.S., the Peiffer Wolf report identified the much tougher government standards in the United Kingdom as an excellent model for this nation.
ABOUT PEIFFER WOLF CARR KANE & CONWAY
The law firm Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway maintains offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Cleveland, St. Louis, Austin, and New Orleans. In addition to handling numerous fertility fraud cases, Peiffer Wolf has handled a multitude of cases in which medical professionals and facilities were accused of either destroying or losing eggs, embryos and other genetic material.
A streaming version of this news event will be available at https://lostembryos.com/ivf-fertility-misconduct/.
Max Karlin at (703) 276-3255 or [email protected]
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