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Judge reveals twins' mix-up clinic

4 November 2002
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 182

Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, head of the Family Division of the UK's High Court, has made a statement about the case of a white woman who gave birth to mixed-race twins after a mistake at an IVF clinic earlier this year.

Dame Butler-Sloss has been examining the legal issues raised by the case, including paternity and custody. Genetic tests had already established that the white woman who gave birth to the twins is also their genetic mother. But, during IVF treatment using ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection), which both couples underwent on the same day, her eggs had been fertilised with the wrong sperm.

The clinic at the centre of the row over the twins has been named as the Assisted Conception Unit at Leeds General Infirmary, although the two couples involved are still being given total anonymity. Dame Butler-Sloss also revealed that the black couple involved remain childless, although she stressed that there was no suggestion that the twins should be uprooted from their 'happy and loving environment' with the white couple, known as Mr and Mrs A. A spokesman for the Leeds hospital said 'the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust deeply regrets the anguish suffered by all those affected by the error' and offered 'unreserved apologies' to both of the couples.

The next stage of proceedings - a decision on the legal parentage of the twins - will take place early next year, after which 'both Mr and Mrs A and Mr and Mrs B will need time to reflect upon whether they seek any assistance about other matters from the Family Division', said Dame Butler-Sloss. She added that the impact of both the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act and the Human Rights Act 1998 would be considered in relation to the 'unprecedented' and 'complex' case.

Embryo mix-up hospital named
BBC News Online |  4 November 2002
Judge names clinic in IVF blunder case
Ananova |  4 November 2002
Press statement
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority |  4 November 2002
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