The beleaguered genetic researcher Hwang Woo-suk knew from the beginning that human eggs he used in his research beginning in 2002 were purchased, according to a colleague responsible for procuring those human ova.
Roh Sung-il, the head of the fertility clinic MizMedi Hospital, told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday that 75 women had been paid 1.5 million won ($1,500) each for egg donations between 2002 and 2005. He had told reporters in November that he had paid some donors, but had lied about Dr. Hwang¡¯s involvement ¡°in consideration of national sentiment.¡± He added, ¡°Now it is time to tell the truth.¡±
¡°When we first started stem cell studies in October of 2002,¡± Dr. Roh said, ¡°I told Dr. Hwang that we could not obtain the eggs unless we paid for them. Dr. Hwang¡¯s team paid 1.5 million won to 10 women and I paid for the rest.¡±
Dr. Roh was one of the co-authors of an article last year article on customized stem cell cloning. In November, he said he had paid 20 women for donations without informing Dr. Hwang of what he had done. Dr. Hwang claimed at the time that Dr. Roh had assured him in 2002 that all the egg cells had been obtained in a ¡°proper¡± manner.
Dr. Hwang¡¯s reputation was first tarnished by ethical allegations in the procurement of egg cells, both because of payments for the donations, a practice not barred by Korean law at the time, and of donations by women on his research staff. Later, the substance of the research itself was called into question and eventually shown to be fraudulent.
Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation¡¯s PD Notebook ran a third segment on the issue yesterday. The network also said Dr. Hwang had known of the paid donations since his research began, and that about 1,600 eggs provided by 86 women had been used in his studies over the past two years. The network had cancelled the documentary program after coming under fire from the public and from its advertisers over its charges, eventually substantiated, about the course of the cloning research.
by Special Reporting Team @ JoongAng Ilbo