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Woman dies after rare complication following IVF

29 October 2012
Appeared in BioNews 679

A man is suing Barts and the London NHS Trust after his wife died from a rare complication after undergoing IVF treatment, reports the Mirror.

The 26-year-old woman, who had a genetic blood condition called anti-phospholipid syndrome (APS), was admitted to hospital with chest pains just four days after being told she was pregnant. She later died from a rare blood clotting disorder, a risk which her husband says doctors had failed to warn about before they underwent treatment.

Mrs Emma Draper, who had conceived only two weeks after receiving her first embryo transfer, had started undergoing fertility treatment on the advice of her GP, the Mirror said. She was being treated with the anticoagulant warfarin for APS after developing a blood clot in 2001. However, since warfarin can affect the development of the fetus, the drug was switched to heparin when Mrs Draper became pregnant.

APS, also known as sticky blood syndrome, is an auto-immune disease which is more common in women than in men. It causes an increased risk of blood clotting in veins and arteries, which can lead to stroke or heart attack. In very rare cases, it can develop into catastrophic anti-phospholipid syndrome (CAPS), fatal in about 50 percent of people.

An inquest into the death heard that Mrs Draper died after her condition progressed from APS to catastrophic APS. '[It] found that Emma had died from natural causes, which presented as a rare complication of pre-existing disease and fertility treatment', a spokesman from Barts hospital said. 'This is a tragic case and our thoughts are with the Draper family at this difficult time'.

The consultant involved in Mrs Draper's treatment told the inquest that he had not warned of the risk of CAPS, as such cases were rare and the number linked to pregnancy was small. Mrs Draper's husband, Peter, told the Mirror: 'Blood specialists warned us there was a risk of blood clotting from changing Emma's medication, but nobody told us that IVF could be life threatening'.

'Emma was sensible - she'd never have had IVF if she'd known that there was a chance she might die. We would have adopted', he said.

In the light of this case, the hospital consultant stated that he now points out the risk of developing CAPS to women undergoing IVF, the Mirror reports.

5 August 2013 - by Rivka Marks-Maran 
Women who have fertility treatment to boost egg production are not at increased risk of death or developing major heart disease later in life, according to a Canadian study...
21 January 2013 - by Cathy Holding 
Women who conceive using IVF are at a higher risk of lethal blood clots during pregnancy compared to women who conceive naturally...
12 November 2012 - by Nishat Hyder 
The parents of a child with serious disabilities caused by an inherited rare genetic condition who died shortly after birth are suing St George's Hospital, London for failing to test for and identify the condition before birth....
19 November 2007 - by Ailsa Stevens 
A UK woman who died in hospital five days after undergoing egg retrieval - a routine element of IVF treatment - suffered a fatal blood clot, an inquest heard last week. Coroner Mario Anastasiades ruled that the death of the 37-year-old driving instructor Nina Thanki, who was undergoing...
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...
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...
24 May 1999 - by BioNews 
Women with a history of infertility, whether they have been treated or not, are at greater risk of having babies that die soon after birth, according to a study published in The Lancet. This latest study of 1,514 women by Leicester University found that women who had suffered from infertility...
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