Four Arrested Israelis Not Alone in Sabyc Connection

The four Israeli doctors detained in Romania for alleged involvement in illegal purchases of ova by the Sabyc fertility clinic are not the only Israelis involved in that country's fertility treatment industry.

Prof. Raphael Ron-El, head of the in vitro fertilization unit at Assaf Harofeh Hospital in Tzrifin and one of Israel's leading fertility experts, worked at Sabyc before switching to another Romanian fertility clinic that also employs a number of Israelis. That clinic, Med New Life, says its eggs are not purchased (which would be illegal), but come from Romanians who undergo fertility treatment at the clinic.

Ron-El began working with Sabyc in 2000 and stopped three years later before moving to Med New Life where he is today.

According to Assaf Harofeh director Benny Davidson, Ron-El quit Sabyc because "he didn't like some of the things that were done at the clinic" and because he discovered that it had no license for some of its activities.

However, Davidson stressed, the clinic itself "is recognized by the Romanian health authorities, and Prof. Ron-El had a permit from the Health Ministry to cooperate with the clinic." Ron-El declined to comment.

Following the Sabyc arrests, Med New Life has expressed worry that Israeli women who had scheduled treatments at the clinic will cancel. Romania's health minister had been scheduled to visit the clinic yesterday, to demonstrate that it, unlike Sabyc, was operating legally, but the visit was canceled. Instead, the Romanian health ministry's director of licensing is expected to visit it today. Another senior Israeli doctor - Ilan Calderon, deputy director of the Bnei Zion Medical Center in Haifa - once worked with Sabyc, but Bnei Zion severed its relationship with Sabyc three and a half years ago. Bnei Zion said the relationship was in fact severed "before it began," because during the negotiations, Bnei Zion discovered that Sabyc was not licensed by the Romanian authorities.