Prof. Raphael Ron-El, laboratory technician Dafna Komarovsky arrested on suspicion of human egg trafficking, sent back to their Bucharest hotel after questioning. Stay of exit order issued against them
Two Israelis who were arrested Tuesday in Romania have been released to their hotel in Bucharest, Romania early Wednesday.
The two got their passports back, but the stay of exit order issued against them still stands.
The two, Prof. Raphael Ron-El who runs the In Vitro Fertilization Clinic at Israel’s Assaf Harofeh Medical Center and laboratory technician Dafna Komarovsky, were detained during a raid Tuesday on a fertility clinic in Bucharest for alleged involvement in the sale of local women’s eggs to o Israeli couples.
In addition, some 30 people – both Romanian and Israeli – were questioned. It is believed there was cooperation between representatives of private clinics in Bucharest, and fertility experts from Israel, breaking the country’s organ transplantation law.
The medical center released a statement saying Professor Ron-El “has been working with this Bucharest clinic for 15 years, backed by the approval of the Israeli Health Ministry and with a Romanian work license. Throughout this period, his actions followed Israeli and Romanian law.
“We are convinced that nothing out of line will be found in the activities of Professor Ron-El, or Ms. Komarovsky,” the hospital said.
Local police searched the clinic, suspecting that Israeli experts were making substantial earnings from the illegal business run at the location. Romanian police said that the clinic recruited women and girls who agreed to allow their eggs to be removed and used in fertility treatments.
In addition to searching the clinic, local authorities searched the homes of six people under investigation. According to the authorities, experts in the clinic removed the eggs of Romanian women between the ages of 18 – 30, some students, paying them between 600-800 euros ($800-1,066).
Most of the people who benefited from the service were Israeli women who visited Romania for artificial insemination, and the suspects made “considerable financial gains” through this illegal human egg trafficking, police said in a statement. According to police, they sold the eggs for a price of 3,000-4,000 euros ($4,000-5,330).
Romanian police arrest two in human egg trafficking case
Romanian police have arrested two people suspected of buying the unfertilised eggs of poor female students and selling them on to Israeli couples who were unable to conceive.
The human eggs were bought from the women – mostly from deprived provincial areas and aged between 18 and 30 – for up to 800 euros (719 pounds), the police said in a statement. They were then sold for as much as 4,000 euros for in-vitro fertilisation at a private clinic in the capital Bucharest.
It was the second time in four years that police in the east European country have found human eggs being sold for artificial insemination, a trade that is against the law there.
Police did not name the clinic or the people involved. They said 30 people had been questioned so far in connection with the case, including doctors, nurses and embryologists. Most of the couples who had bought the Romanian eggs were from Israel.
“This morning we decided to detain two people, a Romanian and an Israeli citizen, partners in this clinic business,” a Bucharest police official told Reuters. “We’ll propose detaining them for 29 days pending the inquiry on the egg trade.”
Students often struggle to make ends meet in Romania, where poverty has worsened since a real estate and credit bubble burst in 2008.
In-vitro fertilisation is sometimes used by couples who face problems to conceive and involves fertilising eggs outside the body and placing them in the uterus for a normal pregnancy.