Palestinian inmates sneak sperm to wives

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NABLUS, West Bank — A Palestinian fertility doctor claimed Wednesday that he has used prisoners’ sperm smuggled out of Israeli jails to help their wives have babies, and that five women have become pregnant so far.

Despite unlikely odds and difficult conditions, a fertility expert said the claims could be plausible.

There are about 4,500 Palestinians in Israeli jails, serving sentences for offenses ranging from stone throwing to killing Israeli civilians.

Most women seeking to become pregnant have husbands who were convicted of taking part in deadly militant attacks and are serving lengthy sentences. These prisoners are barred from having conjugal visits.

“We women are growing old, and our chances of having babies in the future is diminishing,” said Rimah Silawi, 38, who said she is one month pregnant after undergoing IVF treatments that used her imprisoned husband’s sperm. Her husband, Osama, is serving multiple life sentences for killing an Israeli and three Palestinians said to be collaborators with the Israeli military in the West Bank town of Jenin 22 years ago.

Dr. Salim Abu Khaizaran of the Razan Center for IVF in the West Bank city of Nablus said he has gathered 40 samples, and that 22 prisoners’ wives have undergone IVF treatment. Five have been successful, including one woman who delivered her baby earlier this year. He said the success rate was low because of the difficulty in transporting the samples successfully. The Western rate of IVF success is about 25 percent in
ideal hospital conditions.

Abu Khaizaran said he gives the service for free in solidarity with the prisoners.

“The wives of prisoners are suffering. They feel they are lonely because their husbands are behind bars, some for the rest of their lives, and they are eager to have babies that can make a difference in their lives,” Abu
Khaizaran said.

Relatives refused to say how the sperm is smuggled out, fearing the information would help Israeli authorities to prevent further attempts. They said the samples were usually carried out in
eye droppers.