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Assisted Reproduction

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) Documents Increase In IVF Mistakes

From the Telegraph:

Hundreds of couples hoping to conceive children have been affected by the blunders, which include cases where embryos have been lost or placed in the wrong woman, or incidents where eggs have been fertilised with the wrong sperm.

Between 2007/08 and 2008/09 the number of reported incidents increased from 182 to 334, according to The Mail on Sunday. The figures have prompted calls for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to get tougher on clinics which break rules.

Sammy Lee, a leading embryologist from University College London, said: “I think the key failure of the HFEA is that when they ask clinics to put in special procedures, they’re not enforcing them. “It’s important that when you’ve identified a weakness in a procedure, you quickly enforce it, and don’t wait a year to do so.”

The mistakes – which also include fridges containing eggs being switched off accidentally, or consent forms not being signed by two clinicians – are revealed on Donal MacIntyre’s BBC Radio 5 Live show on Sunday. The programme features an interview with one woman who was told by clinicians that two of her remaining three embryos created during her first cycle of fertility treatment had been “lost”. The woman, who had been trying for a baby for seven years, said staff told her they may have “slipped off the straw” during the freezing process. She added: “I was waiting to go in and have a transfer and they said I only had one embryo remaining – the other two had gone missing. Those were two potential babies.”

A spokesman for the HFEA said: “In embryology, as in all areas of clinical care, it is not possible to guarantee 100 per cent success.”


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