A woman who was undergoing fertility treatment in the UK has died, a few days after she began the IVF process. Temilola Akinbolagbe, who was 33 years old, is understood to be the first woman to die as a result of the treatment in the UK. Only three other women, it is believed, have died from the same condition since IVF treatment began in 1978.
Mrs Akinbolagbe was killed by a blood clot that developed as a result of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), caused by an unusual reaction to the fertility drugs she had been given. On 12 November last year, her ovaries went into 'overdrive' and she collapsed in pain at a bus stop near her home in Plumstead, South London. The clot later caused a massive heart attack, from which she eventually died.
Dr John Parsons, the King's College Hospital fertility specialist who was treating Mrs Akinbolagbe, explained that 'the chances of something disastrous happening, like this, is very rare indeed'. According to the BBC, the potentially fatal form of OHSS occurs in about one per cent of women undergoing IVF, although a less severe form is more common. Clare Brown, chief executive of Infertility Network UK, said 'although ovarian hyperstimulation is rare, it is nonetheless a risk which patients should receive detailed information on before embarking on treatment'.
IVF, although a commonly-used fertility procedure, 'still carries risks, like all medical treatments', warned Angela McNab, chief executive of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which regulates fertility treatment provision in the UK. She said 'we will be continuing to remind clinics of their duty to ensure that side-effects of treatments are properly managed and that patients are properly informed and know what to do if they start to feel unwell during their treatment'.