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Human Clinical Embryology and Assisted Conception MSc


 

Embryo mix-up mother will give child to biological parents

28 September 2009

By Ailsa Stevens

Appeared in BioNews 527

A woman from the US has given birth to another couple's baby after being implanted with the wrong embryo during her IVF treatment. Caroline Savage and her husband, Sean, found out about the mistake when the clinic rang Mr Savage in February. But rather than abort the pregnancy, as the clinic suggested, the couple elected to go through with it and then to give the child 'back' to its biological parents after the birth.

Mrs Savage, who is 40 and has three other children, feels that she and her husband came to the right decision about the pregnancy. Speaking on the US television network NBC's 'Today Programme', she said before the birth that 'the hardest part is going to be the delivery. We've been rooting for the baby the whole time. We moved from a position of shock to a realisation that this was actually going to happen. We needed to put the needs of the pregnancy and the child first'. She added: 'It's just been difficult, but we feel we made the right decisions on how to handle it.'

In a statement issued last week, Robert Rebar, Executive Director of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), called for additional measures to prevent future mistakes. He said: 'The incidents reported this week make it clear that there is still work to do. As the leaders in reproductive medicine, we will redouble our efforts to develop systems that will assure our patients and the public that these kinds of mistakes will not happen.

He added: 'The time has come for policy makers to sit down with the leading experts in the field to explore ways we can codify our standards to give them additional regulatory teeth. We will lead an effort involving our members, representatives of patient groups, policy makers and other stakeholders to work together to come up with solutions.'

Though the Savages have three children already, for religious reasons they were keen to give all the embryos they created for the purpose of their IVF treatment 'a chance at life'. However, due to pregnancy complications and her age, the fertility clinic has advised Mrs Savage that it would be too risky to try for another pregnancy through IVF.

The child's biological parents, Paul and Shannon Morell from Detroit, have already met with the Savages and taken steps to ensure they are recognised as the legal parents of the child. Mrs Savage said that she never considered the child her own: 'This was someone else's child. We didn't know who it was. We didn't know if they didn't have children or if this was their last chance for a child, we knew if our child was out there, we'd go to the ends of the earth to get our child back.'

Earlier this year, news broke that an embryo belonging to a UK couple being treated at a Cardiff fertility clinic was accidentally implanted into the wrong woman. In this case the biological parents were not told until after the pregnant woman had elected to take the morning after pill.

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