Romania to Charge Israeli Doctors for Trafficking Human Eggs

Romanian health official likens activities of Bucharest fertility clinic to those carried out in Auschwitz.

Romania has stepped up the legal measures against the suspects in the ova trafficking scandal, which involves Bucharest-based Israeli fertility doctors.

The State Prosecution announced on Wednesday that 22 suspects - including Harry Mironescu (Miron) and his son Yair, who are the directors of the Sabyc fertility clinic - would be indicted.

The head of the Romanian Medical Association on Tuesday compared the activities of the Bucharest fertility clinic, whose Israeli directors have been arrested on charges of trading in ova, to Nazi practices.

Professor Vasili Esterestua told Romanian TV that the Israeli-owned clinic "carried out medical experiments similar to those the Nazis did in Auschwitz," and was characterized by "severe ethical deficiency."

Accusing the Sabyc clinic of extracting ova from women as young as 15-year-old, Esterestua said the doctors "breached the very basic moral standards." He also said they were not licensed to practice medicine in Romania.

Esterestua's comments met with a mix of rage and amazement in Israel. The Israeli Consul in Bucharest, Lily Ben Haroush, said she would ask the Romanian authorities for explanations.

"I was absolutely appalled to hear that. There is absolutely no way to compare the two cases," she said.

On Tuesday, the brother-in-law of one of the detained doctors told Haaretz he believed they would be released soon.

The wife of Dr. Harry Mironescu (Miron), who with his son Yair is in a Romanian jail, flew to Romania on Monday morning. According to her brother, Bobby Yanko, "my sister is worried but she is not under pressure because she knows her husband will be released soon and back home to Ashdod."

Yanko said Miron has been operating in Romania for more than 20 years. In recent years he was joined by Yair, who studied medicine in the Balkan nation and specialized in plastic surgery.

Yanko suggested that another fertility clinic in Romania may have implicated Miron because of his success.

"This is a good man and not a criminal. They can say anything, but we're sure he'll leave Romania an innocent man," he said.

N., a 45-year-old Israeli patient arrested during the police raid of the Sabyc clinic, returned yesterday to Israel.

She said she had turned to the clinic after receiving a referral from Dr. Natan Levit, also under investigation in the affair. "I thought they were terrorists who were going to kill us," she told Haaretz about the raid. She said as soon as her treatment was over, police dragged her out brutally.

V., another patient, said police broke into the room where she was undergoing treatment, with Dr. Levit and the clinic's lab director, the Israeli doctor Genia Ziskind. She said she intends to sue the Romanian authorities.

V. visited the Sabyc clinic on the recommendation of the deputy head of the in-vitro fertilization department at Bnei Zion Medical Center in Haifa, Dr. Ilan Calderon. "He [Calderon] told me that the [egg] donors are young students, he told me what it would cost and why it was expensive. He said it was because of the medications the donors were given, and the time they spent in hospitals and the anesthesiologists. Obviously, I understood they were not doing this for free."

According to Channel 2, Romanian media reported that the total income of the clinic was 20 million euros, and that 20,000 euros in cash was found on the premises.

The telephone did not stop ringing at Dr. Levit's home. His patients were calling to express support for him, his wife Esther and daughter Chen. Some sent flowers with messages that read "Justice will out," and "Our hearts are with you."