Sunday, February 5, 2017

IVF: Experience suggests there's room for some regulation

The Guardian has the story: IVF mix-up: wrong sperm may have fertilised eggs of 26 women
Dozens of women may have had eggs fertilised by sperm cells from someone other than the intended father, say Dutch authorities

"A Dutch medical institution has launched an investigation after discovering that up to 26 women’s eggs may have been fertilised by the wrong sperm at its IVF laboratory.

"A “procedural error” between mid-April 2015 and mid-November 2016 during the in-vitro fertilisation was to blame, the University Medical Centre in Utrecht said.

"“During fertilisation, sperm cells from one treatment couple may have ended up with the egg cells of 26 other couples,” said a statement.

“Therefore there’s a chance that the egg cells have been fertilised by sperm other than that of the intended father.”

Although the chance of that happening was small the possibility “could not be excluded”, said the centre.

Half the women who underwent fertility treatment had become pregnant or given birth.

“For some of the 26 couples frozen embryos are still available but the chance remains that they [too] have been fertilised by the sperm from a man other than the intended father,” the UMC said.

"The couples had been informed, the centre said.

“The UMC’s board regrets that the couples involved had to receive this news and will do everything within its powers to give clarity on the issue as soon as possible.”


"Mix-ups do occur, including one in 2012 when a Singapore mother sued a clinic for alleged negligence after it mixed up her husband’s sperm with that of a stranger.

"The ethnic Chinese woman first suspected that something was amiss when her baby, who was born in 2010, had markedly different skin tone and hair colour from her Caucasian husband, news reports at the time said."

Here's are two recent updates on the Singapore story (and subsequent legal proceedings) from the Straits Times: the first has some details of how the error happened, the second speaks about the legal issues associated with possible damages that might be assessed, and if so for what...
IVF mix-up at Thomson Medical: A look back at the case of 'Baby P'

IVF mix-up at Thomson Medical: Court continues to hear appeal of woman who conceived baby with stranger's sperm

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