IVF mix-up destroys couple’s last hope of child

Fertility centre wrongly implant embryo into another woman

A couple’s last hopes of having another child have been destroyed after a mistake at an NHS fertility clinic meant their final embryo was implanted in another woman.

The woman who mistakenly received their embryo was told of the mistake shortly after it occurred and decided to terminate the pregnancy.

The couple, from Bridgend, south Wales, who have a six-year-old son, have spoken of their devastation and disbelief after winning a legal battle against the IVF Wales clinic, in Cardiff.

Nine embryos had been created using IVF in 2000, and the woman, a 38-year-old hospital worker, subsequently gave birth to a son. The remaining embryos were stored until 2007, when she and her husband, a 40-year-old print plant manager, decided to try for a second child. One of the embryos had survived and they travelled to the clinic for treatment, only to be told the news.

In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, the woman said: ‘In less than 10 seconds, our wonderful world was shattered when the senior embryologist stood in front of us and said, ‘I’m very sorry to tell you, but there’s been an accident in the lab. Your embryo has been destroyed.’

‘We were both rooted to our seats. We were stunned and trembling. We held each other tightly, and sobbed and sobbed. I kept thinking, ‘They’ve killed our baby.’’

The Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust has admitted liability for the case and the couple have been paid an undisclosed sum of money. Ian Lane, the trust’s medical director, said: ‘We apologise unreservedly for this mistake. This was a rare but extremely upsetting incident for everyone involved and we take full responsibility for the distress caused to both couples and their families.’

A spokeswoman for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) said it was a serious error but that IVF treatment was carried out 50,000 times a year in the UK and incidents or ‘near misses’ arose in less that 0.5% of those treatments.

Around 12,000 IVF babies are now born in the UK every year, according to figures from the HFEA.

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