Ethics expert says embryo-implant docs negligent

By David Weber
Friday, January 16, 2004
Boston Herald

A Harvard University medical ethics expert testified yesterday that two doctors at a Boston in-vitro fertilization clinic were negligent for failing to tell a former Wayland firefighter they were impregnating his wife with a frozen embryo that had been fertilized with his sperm.

Richard Gladu is suing the Boston IVF clinic and two of its founding doctors, Selwyn Oskowitz and Merle Berger, charging the birth sealed the break-up of his marriage and plunged him into deep depression and financial ruin.

Gladu's medical expert, Dr. Harold Bursztajn, testified the doctors ``departed from accepted medical practice'' by not obtaining Gladu's explicit consent before they thawed a frozen embryo and implanted it in his wife Dec. 28, 1995. Bursztajn said consent forms signed by Gladu and his wife before a similar successful impregnation in 1993 were not sufficient to cover the 1995 procedure.

"The forms do not indicate that the two parties (Gladu and wife Meredith McLeod) who signed those forms gave consent to serial implantations," Bursztajn testified.

As early as 1990, he said, the doctors were aware Gladu and his wife were torn over the issue of having children despite their continuing efforts to have a successful pregnancy.

"This should have been a red flag," Bursztajn testified.

Bursztajn, who is a psychiatrist and examined Gladu in preparation for this Middlesex Superior Court trial, said Gladu suffers psychologically because of the birth of his third child.

"Nothing brings tears to his eyes, nothing makes him as sad and hopeless, as the conflicting feelings he has about (the child)," Bursztajn testified.