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Frozen embryos 'lost' by Ramsgate IVF

12 December 2011
Appeared in BioNews 637

A fertility clinic in Kent is under investigation after reports that staff may have lost a woman's embryos. Mrs Alison Austin-Hennessy said she and her husband Michael were informed by a consultant at the private Chaucer Hospital that their embryos had been misplaced.

The clinic told the BBC that they had 'robust processes' for handling and storing embryos and in a statement neither confirmed nor denied whether embryos had gone missing. It did acknowledge, however, that an inquiry was currently underway.

Chaucer Hospital is run by BMI Healthcare and, according to the Daily Mail, an audit in March 2009 found that two embryos present in 2007 were now 'gone'. The couple said they were not informed of this, however.

The couple had hoped to have a second child through IVF. They already have one son, Roman, born in 2007 who was conceived after three rounds of fertility treatment, costing over £15,000.

'I was physically sick. For two or three days, I was ringing them up because I just expected them to be found', said Mrs Austin-Hennessy.

In an interview with People magazine, Mrs Austin-Hennessy, who is 31 years old, said that she saw a note on the file that read 'thawed', leading her to believe that the embryos may have been implanted in another woman.

'It's heartbreaking to think another woman may be carrying - or have had - our biological child', she said.

A spokesman from the clinic stated, however, that they were 'extremely confident that there have been no errors with regard to implantation of any embryos and any patients who have received treatment at the unit should not be concerned about this'.

Fertility specialist at the Chaucer Hospital, Mr Michael Rimington, added: 'The likelihood is more that the consent process and duration of storage was exceeded in which case they had to be disposed of'.

Mrs Austin-Hennessy had her fallopian tubes removed and her eggs frozen when she was 19 years old. Half them were later injected with her husband's sperm, and the rest were donated to another couple trying to conceive.

Another woman may be having our child: Heartbroken couple learn IVF clinic has lost their embryos
Daily Mail |  6 December 2011
Ramsgate IVF patient's frozen embryos 'lost by clinic'
BBC |  5 December 2011
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The Outer House of the Court of Session in Scotland has allowed a claim for compensation brought by a man whose sperm may have been damaged by a failure of a storage vessel to proceed to a full trial....
24 June 2013 - by Dr James Heather 
The board of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Scotland, has been told to pay for a couple's private fertility treatment and alter their policies after making a 'number of failures' when providing IVF...
23 July 2012 - by Julianna Photopoulos 
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21 November 2011 - by Dr Lux Fatimathas 
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15 June 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens 
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24 June 2004 - by BioNews 
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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