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Like Father, Like 'Swan'

New York Post,  Feb 19, 2011
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The hallway leading to Dr. Avner Hershlag’s Long Island office is lined with pictures of hundreds of children he’s helped conceive. But on and around his desk, he keeps shots of one particularly pretty, bright-eyed girl — Natalie Portman.

Hershlag, a prominent fertility doctor, is the actress’ father. And now he’s celebrating his Oscar-nominated daughter’s own fertility. He got the good news when Portman called and asked him and her mom, Shelley, to get on the phone at the same time.

“We are very elated and excited, very happy for Natalie and Ben and very happy to have a new baby in our family very soon,” Hershlag says of his daughter, an only child, and her beau Benjamin Millepied.

Babies are Hershlag’s business. And as proud as he clearly is of his daughter, what he really wants to talk about is his work at the Center for Human Reproduction at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, LI. In his 20 years there, Hershlag estimates he’s “made thousands” of babies through in vitro fertilization.

And now, he’s written a novel — in his spare time, he says, “from 3 to 5 in the morning.” “Misconception” is a medical-political thriller. Drawing on Hershlag’s experience in his field, it’s a fast-paced mix of scientific fact and fiction.

The book, set in Washington, DC, centers on Dr. Anya Krim, the first lady’s fertility specialist, who makes house calls to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. There’s also a conservative US senator whose comatose daughter is suddenly pregnant, a severed head in a tank of frozen nitrogen, purloined embryos and even human cloning.

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