Fertility Medicine

Outrage online at mix-up of embryos

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 July, 2011, 12:00am

The transfer of two embryos by mistake into the wrong woman at a reproductive treatment centre is unforgivable, say clients of the centre.

Victory A.R.T. Laboratory escaped censure because it was a human error rather than a system failure, but women on an online forum sharing their experience of getting pregnant said their confidence in the centre was shattered.

'I received treatment at Victory. I am seriously considering if I should get my baby's DNA checked after birth,' one user called susumi123 said on the Baby Kingdom forum.

Another user called tinlingyuetka said she was also a client of Victory. 'Even if I were carrying another person's baby, I would not want to return him to the original parents,' she said. 'I am already emotionally attached. But I would definitely sue the company.'

User PPYeung, who successfully gave birth after receiving reproductive treatment, said Victory was lucky to keep its licence.

'This mistake is unforgivable. I hope other centres will learn from it. They should pay a lot of compensation or else the matter will not be settled so easily,' she said.

On July 8, a junior embryologist at the centre failed to check the labels of the embryos and they were transferred into the wrong woman through in vitro fertilisation. The error was discovered immediately and the embryos were retrieved.

The centre said it informed the woman who underwent the surgery and the original owner of the embryos. It said the embryologist had been reassigned to other duties and that the checking procedures would now be done by two people.

The investigation committee of the Council on Human Reproductive Technology said on Saturday that it was not necessary to suspend the centre's licence as the error was human rather than systematic. The committee said it was satisfied at the centre's remedial measures.

Undersecretary for Food and Health Professor Gabriel Leung said: 'The council is an independent statutory body. It has carried out an investigation according to the law and guidelines,' he said.

Committee member Jennifer Chow Kit-bing said the mistake was serious but the centre should be given a chance. 'If we revoke their licence, they would not be able to carry out any improvement measures, and it would be hard to monitor them further,' she said.

The decision still needs to be approved by the full council.