Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Israelis held in Romania over human egg trafficking

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania has detained two Israelis and a Romanian on suspicion of trafficking in human eggs in their Bucharest-based fertility clinic, organized crime prosecutors said Monday.

Prosecutors said 22 other people, members of the same organization, were also under investigation.

"The group was focusing on identifying foreign couples eager to resort to reproduction techniques and on grabbing Romanian (women) aged 18-30 to donate ova for 800 to 1,000 lei ($270 to $335)," the department for fighting organized crime (DIICOT) said in a statement.

DIICOT said it had detained Harry Mironescu, a gynecologist and de facto head of the clinic, his son Yair Miron and Borzea Cecilia, a Romanian employee, for 24 hours and begun a criminal investigation against them.

Romanian television said the clinic had carried out about 1,200 in vitro fertilization procedures since opening in 1999, and that the main beneficiaries were Israeli, Italian and British couples.

Vasile Astarastoaie, head of Romania's medical watchdog Colegiul Medicilor, said the procedures were illegal because the clinic had not been authorized to carry them out.

In vitro fertilization, used by couples who cannot conceive normally, involves fertilizing eggs outside the body and placing them in the uterus for a normal pregnancy. If a woman's eggs are infertile, a donor must be found to provide fertile eggs.

(Reporting by Radu Marinas; editing by Tim Pearce)

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