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Woman receives damages for stroke caused by IVF

1 July 2005
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 315

A UK woman left brain-damaged after a stroke caused by a rare side effect of IVF treatment is set to receive 'very substantial' agreed damages. The 34-year-old patient, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, became pregnant but then developed ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Fertility doctor Paul Rainsbury, of the Bupa Roding Hospital in Ilford, Essex, agreed last week in the High Court to pay her an undisclosed amount of compensation.

OHSS is caused by the drugs used in IVF to make the ovaries produce more eggs than usual. Mild symptoms of the syndrome, such as swelling and breathlessness, apparently affect up to 20 per cent of women undergoing treatment. However, very rarely, the symptoms are more severe and potentially fatal. Only one death from OHSS has been reported by the UK media to date, that of 33-year-old Temilola Akinbolagbe earlier this year. The total number of fatalities in the 30 years that IVF has been available in the UK is unknown, but it is believed to be less than five.

In the latest case, the woman became pregnant after receiving IVF treatment in 2000. She then developed symptoms of OHSS, which Mr Rainsbury identified on 7 August 2000, but diagnosed as 'mild'. Crucially, on 11 August, she telephoned Mr Rainsbury to say she felt very unwell. She claimed he told her not to worry, but she then later miscarried, the court heard. The next day, she suffered a stroke, and now has great difficulty with her speech, mobility, reasoning and decision-making. But Rainsbury's QC, John Grace, told the judge that if the case had gone to trial, the woman's evidence would have been contradicted by her medical notes - which show that many of her symptoms were still mild when she was admitted to hospital on 12 August.

Mr Rainsbury did not admit liability, but the woman is now set to receive a 'seven-figure' sum, according to the Daily Mail. Her barrister, James Badenoch, said the award meant that she could retain care of her only son and have some freedom from the constraints upon her. The judge, Mr Justice Nelson, approved the settlement.

Damages for IVF strokes victim
The Daily Telegraph |  28 June 2005
Damages for IVF stroke victim
The Guardian |  28 June 2005
Damages for IVF Stroke Victim
The Scotsman |  27 June 2005
6 December 2010 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
Northern Ireland's High Court of Justice has rejected a claim for damages brought by two children born as a result of IVF treatment provided to their mother which resulted in them being of different skin colour than intended...
31 July 2007 - by Sandy Starr 
A report on the circumstances surrounding the 2003 death of Irish IVF patient Jacqueline Rushton has been published. The report was commissioned by the Republic of Ireland's Health Service Executive (HSE), and written by Alison Murdoch of the Newcastle Fertility Centre and independent healthcare consultant Stuart Emslie...
14 August 2006 - by Laura Goodall 
A British woman who had undergone a standard IVF procedure at the Leicester Royal Infirmary has died unexpectedly while undergoing another medical procedure. A coroner and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) is currently investigating the cause of death. During the egg collection operation for IVF...
4 July 2005 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
In this week's BioNews, we report on the case of a woman set to receive damages after she had a stroke following IVF. The patient, left brain-damaged, had developed a rare side effect of fertility treatment called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). In its most severe form, OHSS can be potentially...
18 April 2005 - by BioNews 
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...
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