Six employees of a fertility clinic in the city of Lanzhou, in the Northwestern Chinese province of Gansu, received sentences ranging from 8 to 25 years in prison after they were found guilty of using pig semen to fertilize dozens of women.
Between June 2016 and March 2017, a total of 86 women who had paid 50,000 yuán ($7,700) to be inseminated with sperm from “candidates carefully selected from the Chinese elite” were instead fertilized with swine semen.
Only 4 of these women actually got pregnant, and all of them miscarried before the end of their pregnancies.
One of these aborted fetuses was so deformed a doctor who saw it demanded an autopsy, and it was revealed that the embryo was part human and part animal.
A police investigation then led to the discovery of an unusual fraud involving the Rhinoceros Horn Fertility Clinic and six of its employees.
They discovered that the clinic was purchasing pig semen from farmers in a nearby village and using it to fertilize its customers.
The animal semen was labeled was labeled as “platinum quality” and, surprisingly, sold at a higher price than “regular quality” human semen.
Six employees of the clinic were arrested in March and all of them were found guilty yesterday by the Lanzhou state court.
The director of the clinic, Mr. Wong Hu Chan, was sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment for his responsibility in the fraud.
He admitted in his testimony that he had planned this unusual scheme in order to cope with the constant shortages of “high-quality semen”, which is hard to find in China.
The clinic’s two doctors were respectively sentenced to 15 years and 20 in prison, while two of the nurses were sentenced to ten years and one to eight years.
Four other employees of the clinic had first been suspected, but the investigation showed that they were not aware of the scheme.
Fertility clinics are barely regulated in China and a handful of other disturbing incidents have occurred over the last few years.
In 2011, a fertility clinic in Shanghai was found guilty of diluting its semen with a mix of yak milk and bat guano, a mixture that is believed to improve fertility according to traditional Chinese medicine.
In that particular case, four women had died from infections linked to the mixture and the doctor who had performed the interventions was sentenced to death.