February 26, 2024

Woman aborts other mother’s last IVF embryo

Welsh woman traumatised
A Welsh woman and her partner are devastated after a National Health Service IVF clinic implanted their embryo in the wrong woman, who subsequently aborted it after she found that it was not hers. Deborah (who did not give her surname) told the London Sunday Times that she had an IVF child in 2003. Two subsequent attempts failed and the transfer of her last embryo was botched.

The couple resorted to legal action to force IVF Wales, in Cardiff, to reveal how the mistake happened. Apparently a trainee embryologist took the embryo from the wrong shelf. The UK’s fertility watchdog, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) already requires "double witnessing" in which staff check and document each other’s work to reduce the risk of mistakes. Nonetheless there are still 200 serious mistakes or "near misses" every year in IVF clinics.

The couple’s solicitor told the Western Mail: “it is clear that there were a number of system failings, in that the clinic had failed to implement the procedures set out in the HFEA’s code of conduct, workloads were above safe levels and there were staff shortages. IVF Wales reported two ‘near miss’ incidents in 2006 and an HFEA inspection in February 2007 had warned the clinic to tighten its witnessing procedures, yet it would seem nothing was done. This was an accident waiting to happen.”

The woman’s partner, Paul, told the Guardian: "We were in shock and very upset that such a thing could happen. In the IVF clinic there were leaflets everywhere telling us that this sort of thing could not happen.” This is the fifth consecutive year in which reported errors in IVF clinics have risen. Experts say that the true number is much higher than in the reports.