Dan and Davina Dixon tried for years to have a child without success. But after enlisting the help of a fertility doctor, Davina gave birth to a baby girl in 1990. They named her Rebecca.

For more than two decades, the Dixon family believed Dan was Rebecca’s biological father. But a DNA test taken in her mid-20s revealed Rebecca was actually the offspring of the fertility doctor who had helped the Dixon decades earlier — Norman Barwin.

In 2016, the Dixons sued Barwin, who operated a fertility clinic in Canada for decades. Over the past five years, their lawsuit has grown as more of Barwin’s former patients have emerged. Now, some 200 people are part of the class action, alleging that Barwin used the wrong sperm — sometimes even his own — when artificially inseminating at least 100 patients.

Including Rebecca, 17 people have discovered through DNA tests that the Ottawa-based fertility doctor is their biological father and that they are what is known as “Barwin babies.” More than 80 others don’t know the identity of their biological father but have discovered it’s not the man whose sperm was supposed to be used in their conception.

On Wednesday, the Dixons, on behalf of hundreds of other past patients and their children, reached a tentative agreement to settle their case with the former doctor for $10.7 million, which has been converted from Canadian dollars. The proposed settlement has yet to be approved in Ontario Superior Court, but a judge is scheduled to review it in November.

Barwin admitted no wrongdoing as part of Wednesday’s agreement. He “has denied and continues to deny all of the Plaintiffs’ claims,” the 74-page document says. In the agreement, Barwin said he chose to settle to avoid spending more time and money fighting the case.

Reached by The Washington Post, Barwin’s lawyer declined to comment.

For the Dixons, everything started to unravel in 2016, they said in their lawsuit. Around February of that year, Davina Dixon saw a Facebook post saying it was unusual for two people with blue eyes to have a child with brown ones, which was the case with her family.

Davina scheduled an appointment with her doctor, who suggested a DNA test. It confirmed Dan was not Rebecca’s biological father.

“When I first found out, I felt disassociated from my body and my face,” Rebecca said in 2016. “When I’d look in the mirror, I felt like suddenly it wasn’t my face. Features about myself that I’d always liked, or just thought of as my own seemed like they might belong to someone else, and I didn’t know who that was.”

“My world has been turned upside down,” Dan Dixon added. “Rebecca is our child, but she’s not our child. She is, but she’s not. And that’s why everything is different.”

The Dixons started investigating, and as they did, “could not help but notice that Rebecca bore an uncanny physical resemblance to Dr. Barwin,” the family said in the suit.

Over Facebook, Rebecca met another woman conceived at Barwin’s Ottawa clinic. By the time they connected, Kat Palmer had already used an ancestry website to trace her roots to Barwin and, after prompting him to take a DNA test, confirmed he was her biological father, the suit alleges.

Rebecca Dixon and Kat Palmer each took follow-up DNA tests, which confirmed they were half-sisters with the same biological father.

After the test confirmed Palmer was Barwin’s offspring, the doctor told her he didn’t know how that was possible but admitted to her father, Lyon Palmer, that he’d used his own sperm to test out a sperm counter, according to the 2016 Canadian Broadcasting Corp. article.

“That made no sense,” Lyon Palmer said.

In emails to the Palmers, Barwin claimed the mix-up was unintentional, the article said.

In 2019, Canadian medical regulators stripped Barwin of his medical license after determining he had committed professional misconduct. He pleaded no contest and was ordered to pay an $8,619 fine. Before ruling, regulators hired an experienced OB/GYN who practices fertility medicine to review Barwin’s case. He found Barwin did “avoidable harm” when he inseminated dozens of women with the wrong sperm, some with his own.

The lawyer representing the Dixons, Peter Cronyn, estimates that between 1973 and 2012, Barwin inseminated some 500 patients who went on to have children, so the number of claimants could grow beyond the 200-plus people included in the class action.

The most anyone will get under Wednesday’s agreement is roughly $40,160, reserved for patients who have DNA evidence showing their child is not the offspring of the intended father. Patients who gave Barwin their sperm for safekeeping, only to have him use it to inseminate someone without their knowledge, can claim up to about $20,080. Those patients’ biological children can get up to $32,130.

And $75,000 will go to set up a DNA database, which would be run by Orchid PRO-DNA, which claims to be the largest DNA identification testing company in Canada. The database would operate from Aug. 3 until Feb. 15, 2022, and let children born out of Barwin’s clinic identify their biological fathers, get their medical histories and find half-siblings.

In a statement, Cronyn called the settlement unprecedented and groundbreaking. But other fertility doctors have been accused of similar actions.

In Las Vegas, dozens of people have accused a fertility doctor once trumpeted as “Doctor of the Year” of secretly inseminating patients with his sperm while they were being treated at a women’s hospital. The story was the subject of the HBO documentary “Baby God” released last year.

The doctor, Quincy Fortier, died in 2006 at age 94. He was never charged with a crime, and he never admitted wrongdoing or lost his medical license, The Washington Post reported.

In New York, an OB/GYN artificially inseminated a woman with his own sperm in 1983 when he had promised to use an anonymous donor, according to a federal lawsuit filed in May and reported by the Miami New Times. In the suit, the woman who bore his child accused him of what she calls “medical rape.”

In the case of the Canadian doctor, Rebecca Dixon said in 2016 when she filed her lawsuit that it was good to go public with what happened.

“I feel very strongly that secrets feel shameful,” Rebecca said, according to the CBC. “One reason I am relieved every time I tell someone in my life about this … is that it takes away that feeling of shame.”