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Mixed-up embryos

Dr Kirsty Horsey

Progress Educational Trust

30 October 2002

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[BioNews, London] St George's Hospital in London has become the latest hospital to be exposed over procedural errors in the provision of IVF treatments. It has been revealed that the wrong embryos were transplanted into the wombs of three women undergoing IVF at one of the hospital's clinics.

The error, which happened in April at the Diana, Princess of Wales Centre for Reproductive Medicine, involved three women. The first of these had only her 'poorer quality' embryos transferred into her womb, while her 'best quality' embryos were accidentally transferred to a second woman. The second woman's embryos were then implanted into a third woman.

Doctors at the clinic realised the mistake soon after it had happened and the two women with unrelated embryos were recalled to the unit to undergo procedures to prevent the embryos implanting in their wombs. The error was reported to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), a government body charged with regulating and licensing the providers of fertility treatments.

Last week, it was reported that the head of the unit, Dr Geeta Nargund, had been suspended. Her supporters claim that her suspension is linked to her decision to report the three-way embryo mix-up to the HFEA and because she was outspoken about the management. But the hospital refuses to say why she was suspended. Since the mix-up, the IVF unit has closed, apparently due to 'financial reasons' and difficulties in recruiting the necessary numbers of experienced staff. St George's is proposing to ensure continuity for the patients by transferring them to a specialist unit at King's College Hospital. No action has been taken against the two doctors responsible for the mix-up.

© Copyright Progress Educational Trust

Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.

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Date Added: 30 October 2002   Date Updated: 12 September 2004
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