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Twins' parentage to be decided in New Year

11 November 2002
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 183

Last week, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, head of the Family Division of the UK's High Court, 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. The clinic at the centre of the row over the twins was named as the Assisted Conception Unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

Genetic tests have shown that the white woman who gave birth to the twins - known only as 'Mrs A' - is also their genetic mother. Her egg was somehow fertilised with the sperm of another man - Mr B - instead of that of her husband, when the two couples underwent ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) treatment in the clinic on the same day.

Dame Butler-Sloss will make a decision early next year as to whether Mr A is the child's legal father. Although he is not the biological father, he would appear to be the legal father under the provisions of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. However, a court will have to decide whether or not, if this is the position, it conflicts with the Human Rights Act 1998. If Mr A is not recognised as the legal father, he will have to adopt the twins.

Later in the week, Mr and Mrs B released a statement through their solicitor, saying that they had been 'in a state of turmoil'. Julia Morrill, their solicitor, said 'it was shocking and distressing to them to learn that the fertility clinic in which they had put all their trust had made such a terrible mistake'. But, she added, 'it has been some consolation to Mr and Mrs B to know that the twins are being cared for by the As in an exemplary way'. It has also been reported that Mr B plans to apply for access to the children once the High Court had ruled on parentage.

Erratum: Last week, BioNews reported that St George's Hospital had attributed its embryo mix-up to a 'labelling error'. However, it has come to our attention that on the alleged facts it seems that the embryos, although correctly labelled, were in fact given to the wrong patients.

Clinic behind IVF blunder named
The Guardian |  5 November 2002
Couple in IVF mix-up 'dearly love black twins'
The Daily Telegraph |  5 November 2002
Our devastation
The Daily Mail |  6 November 2002
Our turmoil, by couple in IVF mix-up
The Daily Telegraph |  6 November 2002
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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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