Scores of IVF parents will take to the streets today demonstrating in support of the controversial fertility doctor Mohamed Taranissi. Regarded as "the baby god" by many of his patients, Dr Taranissi found himself at the centre of a media furore last week after a clinic run by him was accused in a Panorama documentary of offering healthy women IVF. He is now being investigated by health watchdogs.
A number of his former patients, with their families, will today assemble outside one of his two central London clinics, the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre (ARGC), to back the embattled specialist.
The group, which includes the actress Joanna Taylor, say Dr Taranissi, 52, is the victim of a witch-hunt led by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and that he has been subjected to "trial by television".
Ms Taylor, 28, the wife of the Tottenham Hotspur and former England midfielder Danny Murphy, had a baby daughter, Mya Eve, via IVF in August last year, following treatment at the ARGC. She described the experience as "entirely positive".
"Dr Taranissi gave my husband and me all the information we needed to make an informed decision about the right treatment for us. He was a great support," said the former Hollyoaks and Merseybeat star.
"The only thing Dr Taranissi is guilty of is trying to help every couple that comes to his clinic to realise their dream of having a child. Maybe he should turn more women away so that he is not as busy and has more time for paperwork, but I could have been one of the women he turned away and I really couldn't imagine life without my beautiful little girl."
The HFEA is conducting a long-term investigation into Dr Taranissi's two clinics, and has already refused to reissue him with a licence for the second practice, the Reproductive Genetics Institute. Last Monday, just hours before the Panorama documentary was broadcast, the HFEA raided both clinics to examine patient records, treatment rooms and laboratories.
Supporters of the Egyptian-born Dr Taranissi, who is Britain's wealthiest doctor with a reported personal fortune of £38m, say he is the victim of professional jealousy. The ARGC is one of the country's most successful IVF clinics: nearly 40 per cent of its patients return home with a baby, more than double the national average.
The organiser of today's protest, Cheryl Hudson, 38, from Oxford, said the surgeon was being victimised. Ms Hudson's two-year-old son, Frank, was conceived following IVF treatment at the clinic, and she is expecting her second child, via immunological treatment, in two weeks' time.
"This is like a witch-hunt. The HFEA are playing to the cameras," said Ms Hudson. "This is not the way they should be acting when investigating doctors.
"The reason I went to Dr Taranissi in the first place was his success rate. He is absolutely head and shoulders above everybody else. It would be a travesty if he's hounded out of the country as a result of this - he's the best IVF doctor we've got."Reuse content