12 December 2011
ByAppeared in BioNews 637
A fertility clinic in Kent is under investigation after reports that staff may have lost a woman's embryos. Mrs Alison Austin-Hennessy said she and her husband Michael were informed by a consultant at the private Chaucer Hospital that their embryos had been misplaced.
The clinic told the BBC that they had 'robust processes' for handling and storing embryos and in a statement neither confirmed nor denied whether embryos had gone missing. It did acknowledge, however, that an inquiry was currently underway.
Chaucer Hospital is run by BMI Healthcare and, according to the Daily Mail, an audit in March 2009 found that two embryos present in 2007 were now 'gone'. The couple said they were not informed of this, however.
The couple had hoped to have a second child through IVF. They already have one son, Roman, born in 2007 who was conceived after three rounds of fertility treatment, costing over £15,000.
'I was physically sick. For two or three days, I was ringing them up because I just expected them to be found', said Mrs Austin-Hennessy.
In an interview with People magazine, Mrs Austin-Hennessy, who is 31 years old, said that she saw a note on the file that read 'thawed', leading her to believe that the embryos may have been implanted in another woman.
'It's heartbreaking to think another woman may be carrying - or have had - our biological child', she said.
A spokesman from the clinic stated, however, that they were 'extremely confident that there have been no errors with regard to implantation of any embryos and any patients who have received treatment at the unit should not be concerned about this'.
Fertility specialist at the Chaucer Hospital, Mr Michael Rimington, added: 'The likelihood is more that the consent process and duration of storage was exceeded in which case they had to be disposed of'.
Mrs Austin-Hennessy had her fallopian tubes removed and her eggs frozen when she was 19 years old. Half them were later injected with her husband's sperm, and the rest were donated to another couple trying to conceive.