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Frozen embryos 'lost' by Ramsgate IVF

12 December 2011

By Jessica Ware

Appeared 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.

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

27 January 2014 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
The Outer House of the Court of Session in Scotland has allowed a claim for compensation brought by a man whose sperm may have been damaged by a failure of a storage vessel to proceed to a full trial....
24 June 2013 - by Dr James Heather 
The board of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Scotland, has been told to pay for a couple's private fertility treatment and alter their policies after making a 'number of failures' when providing IVF...
23 July 2012 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
Three men are considering legal action against a sperm bank in the USA after their frozen sperm samples were allegedly destroyed following a reported malfunction in the bank's storage system. Its operators have said the error could affect as many as 200 patients, reports the Chicago Tribune....

28 November 2011 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
Another blunder at IVF Wales in Cardiff destroyed a batch of 'exceptional' eggs only hours after they were donated, leaving a couple devastated...
21 November 2011 - by Dr Lux Fatimathas 
Apologies have been issued by a Welsh IVF clinic following the accidental destruction of three patients' sperm samples. The samples, known as straws, were collected from patients undergoing treatments for blood disorders and cancer that may affect their fertility. An investigation is underway as to why no senior staff were informed when the samples were destroyed in March this year...
04 May 2010 - by Seil Collins 
The number of reported mistakes at IVF centres in England and Wales has doubled over one year, rising from 182 in 2007/08 to 334 in 2008/09. Incidents range from technical failures to serious mix-ups. Cases where embryos have been lost, implanted into the wrong patient, or fertilised with the wrong sperm have all been reported....
15 June 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens 
An embryo belonging to a couple being treated at a Cardiff fertility clinic was accidentally implanted into the wrong woman and subsequently destroyed. The prospects of Deborah, who is 40, having another child with her partner Paul, 38, are slim and both are said to be devastated that their last hope of conceiving a sibling for their six-year-old son has been lost....
24 June 2004 - by BioNews 
The UK's Department of Health has published a report of its inquiry into the circumstances surrounding a number of IVF mix-ups, one of which led to mixed-race twins being born to a white couple. Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, commissioned Professor Brian Toft, in July 2002, to investigate...

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