08 May 2012
ByAppeared in BioNews 655
An alleged 'mix-up' at a UK fertility clinic has resulted in a gay couple having two children with different racial backgrounds, the Sunday Times reports.
The newspaper says the couple, who remain anonymous, wanted to use the same sperm donor in their IVF treatment so that their children would be genetically related to each other. However, it alleges the London Women's Clinic used sperm from the wrong donor.
The alleged error remained unnoticed until the birth of the second child, whose appearance was 'visibly different to that of the older sibling', the paper said.
The Sunday Times, which broke the story, reported that the couple was 'devastated'. However, the couple issued a statement saying: 'We love our children very much, and whilst the current situation may have implications for us, that in no way detracts from our love of our children and contentment with them in our lives, whatever their race'.
Dr Kamal Ahuja, scientific and managing director of the London Women's Clinic, told BioNews: 'We regret the manner in which a private historical matter was reported in the media. We have collaborated fully with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in order to demonstrate the appropriateness of our procedures, which has reassured our patients'.
A statement from the HFEA said: 'The HFEA can confirm that the London Woman's Clinic reported a grade A incident to us on 4 January and that we launched a full investigation immediately'.
'Our primary concern at this moment is for the patients involved who are understandably very distressed about the incident and the fact that it has become public knowledge. Both now, and in the future, the anonymity of the parents and their offspring is paramount'.
A statement from the London Women's Clinic said: 'Because the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act imposes strict restrictions on the disclosure of identifying information regarding sperm donors or patients, the London Women's Clinic is unable to provide specific comment on this case'.
'However, an independent expert review of the Clinic's procedures has already confirmed their adequacy, and an audit of every single stored vial of donor sperm confirms their suitability for use in fertility treatments', the statement read.
The clinic contends the chances of using the wrong donor sperm are 'less than 0.02 percent'.
The HFEA's Licence Committee is due to meet on 31 May to discuss the case.